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Guess what? State prisons are doing their job
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I do not expect prisons to rehabilitate anyone.

It’s a fallacy to expect the state to be able to do that anyway since rehabilitation is a conscious decision made by the offender and not because they are enrolled in a program to change their evil ways.

I also do not put a lot of stock in the argument prisons are where criminals go to sharpen their trade. Quite the contrary since to get to prison in California compared to almost every other state in the union one must be a seasoned criminal unless, of course, you commit murder and other extremely violent crimes on your first time out.

Nor do I think we should turn inmates loose ahead of time because being behind bars supposedly increases the chance that when they get out they will commit more violent acts.

And - at the risk of being called the most politically incorrect person in California - I laud that there are nearly 150,000 inmates incarcerated in this state.

The reason is simple. Criminals can only attack one another and not you, your family or your neighbors if they are in prison.

It may sound like a terribly insensitive  attitude toward felons but one doesn’t get to places like Pelican Bay, DVI, Atascadero, San Quentin, and Cochran, and Folsom by being Boy Scouts.

You ever experience the joy of a drug house in your neighborhood? Or how about being repeatedly molested? Ever see a kid abused by a junkie parent? Know anyone who has been murdered or a law enforcement offender who was gunned down in cold blood by someone laying in wait? Ever had a friend raped, severely beaten and left for dead? Or ever have your mother beaten during a mugging to the point she loses her teeth and her jaw aches for the rest of her life?

Police have become more effective at targeting career and repeat criminals who account for a bunch of crime. That explains why crime rates have been dropping for the past several years despite double-digit unemployment. It is pretty hard to steal from, rape, kill, assault, and shoot law-abiding citizens from behind bars.

Instead of slamming the system and making wholesale chances we should be fine tuning it if for no other reason because it is working to a large degree.

Yes, I understand prisons are expensive to run. But instead of keep building prisons with the attitude one-size fits all, why not create barrack-style prisons for drug offenders and reduce staffing accordingly? It may take some downward adjustment of sentencing laws with the incentive to behave being relative short sentences away from society with an extra incentive to behave by imposing draconian time penalties for initiating violence behind bars or escaping.

Eliminate double dipping of correctional officers retiring and going back to work. Also the state needs to re-examine how heavily they guard prisoners who are taken to civilian hospitals even if it is done on a case-by-case basis. By the time a prisoner qualifies for health care outside the walls of a prison, they aren’t exactly high-risk candidates for escaping.

And yes, the Supreme Court is concerned about health care availability. It’s kind of ironic, in a way, since those behind prison arguably have better access to health care than many law-abiding Californians.

Then there is the issue about cramped conditions. Frankly, I’d be more concerned about the guard’s safety than the inmates.

There are those who will say that prisons not only don’t reform criminals but they don’t scare them to stay straight to avoid a return to the big house due to the alleged deplorable conditions.

That’s fine. If someone is convicted of a violent crime it is better that they’re looking over their shoulder in prison than law-abiding citizens having to look over their shoulders.

There is no easy fix to some of the perceived ills of the system.

But one thing is certain beyond a shadow of a doubt. Locking up habitual criminals does reduce crime even in tough economic times as we are now experiencing.