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Governor should release non-violent criminals, not send them to counties

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Posted: Wednesday, July 27, 2011 12:00 am

The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered the state of California to reduce the state prison population by 30,000 inmates and has given them two years to do so. Instead of releasing inmates convicted of non-violent crimes, the governor and the legislature have opted to transfer prisoners to county jails.

The population of the state prison system increases each year because more men and women are arrested, prosecuted and convicted than are released. Therefore the totals in both the state prisons and the county jails will continue to increase.

When the county jails are filled, then what? Twenty to 25 percent of state prison inmates have been convicted of mere possession of illegal drugs. Many, if not all, could be pardoned by the governor without any danger to the citizens of California, but that simple solution would be politically incorrect. Police, prosecutors, judges and prison guards depend on the continual increase in arrests, prosecutions, sentences and incarcerations for their livelihood.

Together they own the governor and the Legislature, so nothing will be done to reduce the total population of incarcerated men and women. It costs $8 billion to run the state prison system, and that will increase even without the building of new prisons. The governor and the Legislature will never do the right thing.

Cliff Shirk


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