After his outrageous opinion in Citizens United, freeing corporations to spend willy-nilly on politics, Justice Anthony Kennedy wasn’t my favorite Justice. (Justice Breyer currently holds that title for his dissent in the Prop 8 trial youtube decision.) But, give the man credit for some honest talk at a forum at Pepperdine Law School. While Republicans in the state are, shall we say, going in another direction, he encourages some real soul searching on our penal system.
“California now has 185,000 people in prison at $32,500 a year” each, he said. He then urged voters and officials to compare that expense to what taxpayers spend per pupil in elementary schools.
“The three-strikes law sponsor is the correctional officers’ union and that is sick!” Kennedy said of the measure mandating life sentences for third-time criminal offenders. (LA Times)
Also of note was his remark that American prison sentences are eight times longer than European sentences. You’ll see with a casual glance at the statistics that the additional expenses for the sentences are not really an efficient use of resources.