SacBee Agrees On Ending Tough On Crime And Passing Sane Prison Policy

The Sacramento Bee comes out for sensible, workable prison policy solutions, including an independent sentencing commission, that would reduce our prison budget and actually make the state safer.

That leaves the biggest issue that legislators need to tackle: California’s jumble of complicated, inconsistent and confusing sentencing laws. Other states have resolved the mess by creating an independent, professional, nonpartisan sentencing commission. The time is ripe for California to do the same.

In other states, successful sentencing commissions collect past and current sentencing information and analyze the impact of sentencing changes on prison populations, budgets and crime rates. They recommend an organizing framework for sentencing. Details on who makes appointments and who serves (judges, district attorneys, law enforcement, etc.) get worked out on a bipartisan basis.

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg have shown interest in getting a bill passed. Assembly Bill 1376, which passed the Assembly and is now in the Senate, is the vehicle.

These prison solutions have been discussed for three decades; it’s time to act.

It’s about time this was recognized.  As General Barry McCaffrey has written, we have an addiction to prison in this country, and in particular in this state.  An all-too-prevalent “out of sight, out of mind” attitude has blinded the political leadership to the consequences of warehousing prisoners without giving them the tools to pay their debt to society and move on in a positive, successful fashion.  The sentencing commission bill has languished for years; it’s time to ignore fear and get this done.

One thought on “SacBee Agrees On Ending Tough On Crime And Passing Sane Prison Policy”

  1. We just don’t use our brains as it stands now, and from a human rights perspective, it’s appalling.

    from McCaffrey’s article:

    Given the abysmal outcomes of incarceration on addictive behavior, there’s absolutely no justification for state governments to continue to waste tax dollars feeding a situation where generational recidivism is becoming the norm and parents, children and grandparents may find themselves locked up together.

    Author Judge Dennis Challeen (ret.) said it best about sending the addicted to prison:

    We want them to have self-worth

    So we destroy their self-worth

    We want them to be responsible

    So we take away all responsibility

    We want them to be positive and constructive

    So we degrade them and make them useless

    We want them to be trustworthy

    So we put them where there is no trust

    We want them to be non-violent

    So we put them where violence is all around them

    We want them to be kind and loving people

    So we subject them to hatred and cruelty

    We want them to quit being the tough guy

    So we put them where the tough guy is respected

    We want them quit hanging around losers

    So we put all the losers in the state under one roof

    We want them to quit exploiting us

    So we put them where they exploit each other

    We want them to take control of their lives, own problems and quit being a parasite on society

    So we make them totally dependent on us

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