Thursday, June 17, 2010

American Justice

California edition;

California's correctional facilities are among the nation's most overcrowded. The driving force has been the state's harsh and at times bizarre criminal laws and parole practices. Under the state's notorious three-strikes-and-you're-out law, criminals can be sent away for life for even minor, non-violent crimes - including shoplifting. Not surprisingly, then, the prison population has soared over the past few decades, from about 20,000 in the early 1970s to past 160,000 in recent years.

The results have been disastrous, with Schwarzenegger's state-of-emergency declaration painting a grim picture. Because of the overcrowding, it was difficult for the guards to monitor prisoners and to prevent violence from breaking out. There were frequent power outages. And the sewage systems were overtaxed, creating a risk of disease. "Immediate action is necessary," the governor warned, "to prevent death and harm."

The issue isn't that Americans have engaged in more criminal behavior. The problem is right wing ideology where getting "tough on crime" has been a good campaign slogan. It appeals to people's fear.. and appealing to fear is always a winning strategy. Just ask George Bush.

It's a real human tragedy.. and lives are destroyed in the process. Nobody really gives a shit about them... or at least, most don't give a shit.

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