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May 29, 2011

Lots more talk about Plata and its consequences a week later

It has now been about week since the Supreme Court's major California prison ruling in Plata (basics here), and there justifiably continues to be a lot of important and interesting post-Plata commentary in the MSM and in new media.  This op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times, headlined "Don't fear the prison decision: California won't have to free dangerous criminals to meet the Supreme Court's mandate," highlights why the ruling is not cataclysmic for California. Here is how the op-ed begins:

In his dissent from the majority in the recent Supreme Court decision requiring California to reduce its prison population by 33,000 inmates, Justice Antonin Scalia warned that "terrible things are sure to happen as a consequence of this outrageous order." But Californians shouldn't panic. The state won't have to throw open the prison doors to meet the court's order if it embraces very modest sentencing reforms.

Prudent ideas for reducing the prison population have been advocated by various task forces, including ones led by former Gov. George Deukmejian, by former Atty. Gen. John Van de Kamp and by a national panel of corrections experts convened by the Legislature. The California Department of Corrections has already submitted a plan to the federal courts detailing how it expects to make the necessary prison population reductions.

Even without the Supreme Court decision, about 250,000 inmates who have served their time will be released from California prisons over the next two years. In addition, since the late 1990s, jails in 22 counties have been releasing nearly 100,000 inmates a year to meet court-ordered caps on the number of people their facilities can accommodate.

Despite all those releases, crime rates are at the lowest levels since Dwight D. Eisenhower was president. Serious crime and arrests have been dropping in California and across the nation for years. While criminologists do not have an easy explanation for the huge crime decline, the evidence points to more effective policing, improved prevention programs for at-risk families and an influx of immigrants, who traditionally have very low crime rates.

Not surprisingly, not every agrees with this sober assessment.  The folks at Crime & Consequences, for example, have a more pessimistic assessment of Plata as demonstrated in a pair of recent posts titled "Lies, Damned Lies, and Lazy Falsehoods" and "The Leftist Arsenal: Lying and Smearing."  And, for a still different set of perspectives, there are a bunch of Plata posts at  California Corrections Crisis and Prison Law Blog worth checking out.

Prior posts on the Plata ruling:

May 29, 2011 at 05:38 PM | Permalink


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Because the adjudicated charge is from plea bargain in 95% of sentences, it is fictitious. It is quite unknown if one is releasing a non-violent prisoner.

Because the witnesses are terrorized, and he has no witnesses, the DA may accept a possession charge instead of a drug kingpin charge, a trespassing charge instead of the ultra-violent home invasion that actually took place.

If a prematuraly released prisoner kills, the family has full moral justification to bring street justice to the lawyer profession. The Plata decision is a catastrophe, with the foreseeability of planetary orbits.

The low crime rates are from the police filing reports in the trash to avoid getting yelled at by lawyer politicians or the upward definition of crime. One notes the suspension of the DOJ household crime victimization survey by the Obama DOJ. There are no household interview data after 2007. It is for methodological improvements. But, it was the best method in existence and needed no improvement. Convenient coincidence.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 29, 2011 7:39:38 PM

"...and an influx of immigrants, who traditionally have very low crime rates."

Sorry. If you are an illegal alien, and someone stole your wallet at gun point, do you file a police report upon which these ridiculous liberal claims of low crime rates are based? No. The victimization by the police is likely to far exceed that by the street criminal. You would have to be insanely self-defeating to report crime if a recent immigrant.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 29, 2011 8:24:59 PM

California essentially decriminalized marijuana possession decades ago. In 2001, CA made it darn near impossible to go to jail much less prison for drug use or possession with mandated probation and treatment. How's our crime rate doing? And if it's down what makes them think that it will go down further if we have already done what Texas has done. It should be noted CA had never had the drug penalties that NY had so there is no apples to apples comparison available.

The fact is that CA is ahead of many places in US in substantially reducing drug penalties and instead using community treatment as a rehabiltative model. Our Governor and AG will use Plata as an excuse to release substantively different prisoners than the "non-violent" druggies they claim.

It takes genuine work for "non-violent" felons to earn a prison sentence. The vast majority have been convicted of multiple felonies. The types of first time "non-violent" felons who go to prison are the serial swindlers of the vulnerable, big time drug sales but not much else.

Posted by: David | May 30, 2011 10:40:11 AM


"the DA may accept a possession charge instead of a drug kingpin charge, a trespassing charge instead of the ultra-violent home invasion that actually took place."

Sounds to me that this is a big part of the criminal sytem's problems! If he's got a kingpin or home invasion suspect and takes a gimmie deal it's BECAUSE HE CAN'T PROVE IT!

so he CHEATS and uses OVERCHARGING and the ILLEGAL PLEA BARGAIN to cut a deal. Hoping the idividiual will either get killed or crippled in prison or foul up on probation/parole so he can LEGALLY hammer them!

Posted by: rodsmith | May 31, 2011 2:12:56 AM

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