CA Prison Fiasco Viewed As ‘Proof Of Broken System’


Writing in the Modesto Bee, columnist Dan Walters says Tuesday’s judicial order that California must reduce its prison population by 43,000 is further evidence that “the dominant cultural trait of the state Capitol is procrastination, a chronic tendency to deny reality as long as possible and thus avoid the political consequences of facing it.” He says the prison situation, which voters and politicians “allowed to fester despite multiple warnings,” is “proof of a broken political system.”

In ordering the population reduction, a panel of three federal judges wrote, “Where the political process has utterly failed to protect the constitutional rights of a minority, the courts can, and must, vindicate those rights.” The judges blamed “tough-on-crime policies and an unwillingness to expend the necessary funds to support the population growth.” Walters commented, “When California launched its lock-’em-up policy 30 years ago – the result of some Democratic legislators and judges losing their positions after being accused of softness on crime – the state had about 20,000 inmates. Now it has more than 160,000. There’s an old saying in police and prosecutorial circles: Don’t do the crime unless you want to do the time. A political corollary should be: Don’t crack down on crime unless you’re willing to spend the dime.”

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