Patterico's Pontifications


Are They Drafting Michael Moore For L.A. County Sheriff?

Filed under: Crime,Miscellaneous — Justin Levine @ 3:18 am

[posted by Justin Levine] 

I suppose Moore might have some extra material for the DVD release of ‘Sicko’ –

Under fire for overcrowded jails, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca is seeking the power to force thousands of inmates to be placed on detention in their homes, but prisoners rights advocates are fighting the move, saying that it would mean many more inmates would be deprived of the medical and mental healthcare they get behind bars.

29 Responses to “Are They Drafting Michael Moore For L.A. County Sheriff?”

  1. Only in America.

    aunursa (10a2b2)

  2. They don’t get treatment on the outside because they are too busy getting high, stealing cars, beating wives, etc.

    Alta Bob (e43e07)

  3. Whereas in my neck of the woods, the constant complaint is that prisoners can’t get medicines and care that they need (especially mental health patients)….

    kishnevi (458f49)

  4. Only in America with specificity: Los Angeles, California!! We can’t keep criminals in jail so release them; we can keep criminals in jail so don’t prosecute them, but keep increasing our budget even though, we know, it won’t help. Thank god I no longer live in that county!

    Sue (853fd9)

  5. We’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

    This is similar to the left’s double-edged whine that we are unlawfully interfering in Iraq yet should be unlawfully interfering in Darfur, or whatever their pet country is of the moment.

    Patricia (824fa1)

  6. What’s truly sad is that our nation has come to this. The poor are so desperate for health care that they are sometimes better off in jail.

    Mental health care, in particular, is non-existant in this country — even health insurance stops covering it as quickly as possible. The fact is, our prisons are now the de facto mental institutions of our country. So yes, many prisoners lose the only care they will ever get when they are released from jail.

    Phil (427875)

  7. Phil – Do you have any citations to support your theory that people commit crimes to get health care?

    daleyrocks (906622)

  8. Phil – Most reports indicate that the prisoners at Gitmo are receiving both high quality food and medical care. Many, between politically motivated hunger strikes, gain weight. Under your argument, shouldn’t they be kept where they are getting good quality care rather than released into situations where they may get no medical care or the nutrition may be questionable? Does Al Qaeda have a major medical plan?

    What am I missing here?

    daleyrocks (906622)

  9. Patricia: can you provide a link to someone on the left saying that we should unlawfully intervene in Darfur? I’ve seen people argue that *someone* ought to do *something*, but that’s not quite as specific as saying we ought to invade; and my suspicion is that most on the left really want the UN to intervene, not the US.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  10. May 21, 2007 (WASHINGTON) — Sen. Joseph Biden, the aspiring Democratic nominee for US presidency, said that he would send U.S. troops to end the Darfur conflict.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  11. The nanny state is upon us.

    Stuart Pendous (b911d1)

  12. There must be some sort of Paris Hilton irony in all of this.

    Neo (cba5df)

  13. Phil #6 is right. Too many people are in jail and prison who should be in mental health institutions. Far many more on the street. We closed down most partially federally funded mental health facilities under Reagan and we sent people who cannot fend for themselves out into the streets to fend for themselves. They genuinely cannot conform their conduct to the requirements of the law so they commit nuisance offenses. They cannot work to feed themselves so they steal and burglarize.

    A short true story: A homeless man went into a grocery store and ate a $0.59 package of luncheon meat. He stuffed a second package into his pocket and tried to walk out of the store. He was arrested and tried for theft, enhanced to felony theft because he had a prior theft conviction. The judge sentenced him to three years in prison (the maximum sentence) for stealing $1.18 worth of luncheon meat. At the time I thought the judge was a horribly cruel asshole. Now, so many years later, I believe he did the best thing possible for that prisoner.

    nk (9c9223)

  14. The nanny state is upon us.

    Nobody’s offering to change your diaper and wipe your nose. It’s a nice phrase, sometimes I use it too, but it has no application here. The “welfare state” is more nearly appropriate but still not on point. You are going to have a segment of the population leaving on the streets, eating out of garbage cans, and sometimes breaking your windows or breaking into your house or raping you or killing you because they’re nuts. Do you want them on the streets until they commit a crime that you can send them to prison for?

    nk (9c9223)

  15. It all nice to recount a story about a person who was jailed for stealing $1 in lunchmeat but the truth is that story may apply to 1 out of a million prisoners. Most, with mental health issues or not, are jailed for much more serious crimes, usually against persons and not property. Our jails have in fact become warehouses for the seriously mentally ill not because mental illness is a crime but because their mental illness causes them to commit crimes that are dangerous to the people in the community.

    Buzzy (9d4680)

  16. Which came first nk, the mental health issue or the crime? Some of these mental health issues are first “diagnosed” after crimes are committed or are notoriously based on subjective analysis.

    Soft tissue injuries anyone?

    Drug seeking behavior anyone?

    daleyrocks (906622)

  17. nk, I recall the assylum issue being more complex than just federally funded closures. There were changes in the law that made it much more difficult to commit someone against his will, unless he was a clear threat to himself or others. Even if mental facilities were available, many of the people out on the street wouldn’t use them.

    Let’s assume we build enough mental health facillities for them. What do we do when they won’t go?

    steverino (161715)

  18. Steverino #16,

    It’s true we cannot involuntarily commit someone for being a paranoid schizophrenic. But we can send a paranoid schizophrenic to jail for up to 364 days for breaking a store window. Or we can, in combination of his paranoid schizophrenia with criminal behavior, commit him against his will indefinitely in a mental hospital. The question is whether we want to go to the trouble and expense. Whether we want to pay psychiatric nurses or prison guards, psychiatrists or wardens.

    nk (9c9223)

  19. nk, maybe where you are but around here if you go the mental health route the paranoid schizophrenic will be back out on the street in 48 hours with a bottle of pills he likely will not take.

    Buzzy (9d4680)

  20. I say send them to TEXAS where they can wear pink and take part in CHAIN GANGS

    krazy kagu (85eb6b)

  21. Or we can, in combination of his paranoid schizophrenia with criminal behavior, commit him against his will indefinitely in a mental hospital.

    Be prepared for a tsunami of abuse. Plenty of criminals will claim to be mentally ill just to get put in a mental hospital…and be “cured” in 6 months.

    I’m not opposing you, nk, just noting that the solution may be harder to live with than the problem.

    steverino (d27168)

  22. Phil hits it on the head in comment #6.

    My mom is a nurse practitioner who deals with patients with Hepatitis C on a regular basis. She plans on taking her experience in this field to a medium security prison in Colorado when she retires.

    She once heard a story of a prison warden who made a statement along the following lines (and I paraphrase): “If we don’t treat prisoners with Hep C while they’re in prison, they will continue to spread Hep C when they get out of prison.”

    If prisons seek to protect society from dangerous people, it makes sense to nullify the very thing that makes the dangerous people dangerous, whether that is Hep C or mental illness, so that prisoners will no longer pose a threat to society when they are released… but a lot of people (cough, cough) seem to think that mental illness is nothing more than a straw man that criminals hide behind to receive alleviated sentences. Well, some undoubtedly do. But the majority undoubtedly don’t.

    And once again, the more nk speaks, the more I respect him. He’s absolutely right: we can pay for treatment and solve the problem, or we can pay for punishment and delay it.

    Leviticus (41e7fb)

  23. The charges:

    1. Sheriff Lee Baca is seeking the power to force thousands of inmates to be placed on detention in their homes
    Whether there is a down-side to the plan or not, isn’t this a peculiar wording of the topic?
    It sounds like an old Carson “Karnak” joke:
    The Answer- Inmates who compliment the prison chef.
    The Question- Which inmates are threatened with detention at home if they cause trouble?

    2. “many more inmates would be deprived of the medical and mental healthcare they get behind bars” [If placed on house arrest]

    Background information:
    -Baca: “a short-term solution to the jail overcrowding problem that has forced him to release thousands of inmates after they served only a fraction of their sentences.” … “the sheriff expects to assign about 2,000 inmates with low-level offenses to involuntary home detention, … wear electronic ankle bracelets”
    “It will help me keep people in jail who need to stay in jail, including domestic violence offenders.”

    -At times, home detention has been controversial. When Baca sent Paris Hilton home from jail last month, an outcry rose from the public and prosecutors. … Sen. Jeff Denham (R-Salinas) cited the Hilton case in explaining why he voted against the bill.
    I object, your honor. Tangential and pointless to the issue at hand.”

    – … many inmates do not apply — betting that they will be released from jail in a few days because of the early release policy
    – Los Angeles County is under a court order to end overcrowding, so some inmates are released after serving only 25% of their time
    – The bill would allow the … county’s correctional administrator … to require participation in the home detention program when … prisoners would otherwise face early release because of a lack of jail space.

    Specific Claims and Counter-claims:
    – “the new program will make it even harder” [to get medical and mental health care] “This bill may allow jails to place individuals who need critical medical or psychiatric care in home detention without identified services or funding to pay for these services,” said Margaret Jakobson-Johnson of Protection and Advocacy Inc
    In addition, … “Release on home detention without housing, or a clear plan to find housing quickly, may do more harm to an individual,” she said.
    -(Counter) “proposed legislation would allow those assigned to home detention to receive vocational and housing assistance and to leave home for psychological and medical care, said state Sen. George Runner (R-Lancaster), a coauthor of the bill. He said the county does not give up its obligation to provide inmates with healthcare just because they are assigned to home detention.
    “What’s happening now is these people are being released after a few days and sent home, or are not serving any time in jail. In those circumstances, they are not getting any care anyway.”

    We find:
    1. the charges are without merit
    2. if the charges as described by Margaret Jakobson-Johnson were supported by the evidence, the apparent remedy would be a new standard of life imprisonment without parole for all criminals who do not have reasonable housing, and/or access to medical and mental health care, and/or the inability to cooperate with med./MH care, limiting their degree of improvement.

    Epilogue: Yes, there are many problems with health care in the United States due to many factors. But the logical conclusion of the argument against the plan is an unintended, impractical, and unsupportable consequence. Without the measure many convicted criminals will be “loose on the streets” earlier than called for, and without the oversight of the criminal justice system to assist in getting adequate housing and care.

    One problem with health care is cost shifting, different components of the system always want to avoid paying what they can and make somebody else pay, instead. This tends to make everyone losers in the long run. There will be money saved by the county in not needing to build extra prison space, but who is going to pay for the increased “benefits” of those on house arrest, and for the additional staffing to “keep an eye” on them??

    nk- Did you eventually decide that the judge gave the long sentence with the aim of being merciful in helping the fellow get care, or that it worked out that way, whether the judge meant it that way or not? Might there be problems if the judge vocalized that kind of reasoning? As a physician, I have advocated on several occasions that incarceration would be better for the person’s well being (getting treatment for AIDS instead of a downward spiral while doing drugs, etc.)
    Also, I thought the decrease in hospital facilities for the chronically mentally ill began long before Regan. I would be interested if you have a specific link/reference regarding the issue.

    Leviticus- Previously you asked if I went to the Univ. of Wisconsin, and if I recall correctly you are a chemistry major. (Or am I confusing you with someone else?) Are you interested in going to Grad school there, or any other particular interest that I can help with?

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  24. MD in Philly #33,
    Also, I thought the decrease in hospital facilities for the chronically mentally ill began long before Regan.

    You’re right. Closing down “the snakepits” started in the ’60s. But I believe that we finally threw out the baby with the bathwater in the ’80s when we defunded alternatives to “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”.

    Did you eventually decide that the judge gave the long sentence with the aim of being merciful in helping the fellow get care, or that it worked out that way, whether the judge meant it that way or not?

    It’s kind of like that Mark Twain quip (roughly): “When I was seventeen, I thought my father was the most stupid man in the world. When I turned eighteen, I was amazed at how much smarter he had gotten in a year.” Two years out of law school (and my pre-law job monitoring and critiquing the criminal justice system) I was the smartest fellow in the courtroom. Twenty-three years later, I would say that the judge balanced compassion for the human being before him with his duty to uphold the law and protect society.

    nk (9c9223)

  25. nk- Thanks for the response.
    I don’t remember how the Twain quote is exactly worded either, but in my experience (with two boys 20 and 18) I’m still waiting for their epiphanies…

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  26. MD in Philly,

    I did ask if you went to the University of Wisconsin, but I’m a political science major, not a chemistry major (which is one of the reasons I like this blog so much: constant political debate).

    I am indeed interested in going to grad school at said university (along with several others, including Berkeley); I’ve also given thought to law school (even after Pablo gave me that legal-lingo ass-whupping a couple of weeks ago, regarding the definition of assault).

    “[Is there] any other particular interest that I can help with?”

    -MD in Philly

    Though I appreciate the offer, I’m not exactly sure what you mean. Are you talking about references, putting in a good word, etc.? If that’s the case, I’m not yet to the point where I need to be getting such things in order: I’m just starting my fourth semester…

    Why the extension of such an offer, by the way? I’ve never been the most polite or agreeable person on this site… though I do sincerely appreciate the gesture.

    Leviticus (d2ecb3)

  27. Leviticus-

    I meant if you needed any info/questions answered re “Madison”. I probably know some of the Chemistry faculty who are still there, including an undergrad chum who is on faculty there now, so I could have given you a personal contact. (It’s the Midwest, no pretentiousness, even for Nobel Prize winners). I think it’s a great place. Currently UW brags as having the most grads of any university who are CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies as well as the most grads in the Peace Corps. Beautiful campus (if you like snow part of the year).

    I do not know much about the poli sci department, except I expect it is about as left as you can be and still be “east of the Mississippi River”. They’ve probably been trying to make up for the years Dick Cheney studied there. At the UW, Berkeley is referred to as “the Madison of the West Coast”(FWIW).

    If you can find it, there is a documentary titled “The War at Home” made in the 70’s about Madison in the Vietnam war era, including the bombing of the math research center. It’s surreal to see the National Guard troops in battle gear, and interviews with full-fledged anarchists who thought they were going to start the revolution to topple the US government. The Weatherman types were definitely not “just anti-war protesters”. (Note- For the benefit of anyone searching for worrisome terms like those in the preceding sentences, those people were crazy. I have no sympathy for them, mainly amazement that such types were around.)

    For not being “the most polite or agreeable person” you seem intellectually honest. (Even though we often disagree). You may or may not recall our interchange quite some time ago regarding the role of experience, and whether I was being patronizing (your view) or trying to give perspective (my view). I don’t want to revisit that debate, but I don’t think you can claim patronizing with this post.

    FWIW, “Uncle Jimbo” at Blackfive is Madison based, so there is at least one conservative still there. (Look up his YouTube site and you can see coverage of the “Impeach Bush Rally”, otherwise known as the 4th of July celebration.)

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  28. “You may or may not recall our interchange quite some time ago regarding the role of experience, and whether I was being patronizing (your view) or trying to give perspective (my view). I don’t want to revisit that debate, but I don’t think you can claim patronizing with this post.”

    -MD in Philly

    I do recall that exchange, and I was worried that you might recall it as well when I responded to your post. Let me assure you, I was totally sincere in thanking you for your offer, and did not think it patronizing in any way.

    Also, Madison’s reputation for militant liberalism is what drew me to it in the first place – not because I want to participate in said activity, per se, but because I want to observe it. I’ve studied SDS and the Weathermen on and off for years, and I’ve talked personally with one of the organization’s founders (who considers his past work an utter fiasco). Essentially, I like the idea of a politically charged atmosphere, and Madison seems as good a candidate as any for such a thing.

    Leviticus (fe6d1b)

  29. Leviticus-

    I know you were being totally sincere in thanking me for the offer above, and you’re welcome.

    I was responding to your query about “why the offer”.
    I understand why you took my previous comments as patronizing. They sounded that way whether I meant it as patronizing or not, and you had little information to judge by. I wanted to openly reference that exchange without revisiting it.* I offered my thought that this exchange was free from projecting such “vibes”.**

    The political scene in Madison is probably unchanged in the following way: The bulk of the student body are simply students from Wisconsin going to the state school, interested in getting enough education for a good job and enjoying themselves in the meantime. There are some students there among undergrads who recognize it for the top-flight institution that it is. Then there are a few who are politically active and very vocal. Grad students probably appreciate it more either for the education or the political climate.
    -In the 60’s the militant and vocal few led the protests while the majority (of participants) were more of the “Hey man, make luv, not war” crowd. This was seen after the bombing. The militants thought it would ignite the revolution. They felt betrayed when instead, the bulk of the protesters said, “Hey, wait a minute, I thought we were against war, not for blowing up people”, and the momentum quickly ebbed.
    -In the 70’s and 80’s, the vocal minority controlled student govt., etc., for awhile, which was seen as increasingly irrelevant to most students. In reaction, the “Pail and Shovel” Party won an overwhelming majority in the late 70’s with such promises as holding the biggest “toga party” ever, and “bringing culture to the Midwest by having the Statue of Liberty flown to Madison and placed on Picnic Point” (a narrow point of land sticking into Lake Mendota, around whose southern shoreline the university is wrapped around. Leon Varjian, one of the two top rulers of the party and a native of the Northeast, explained he came to the UW because he “could smell the beer all of the way from New Jersey”.
    During episodic strikes of the TAA during this period, picketers were heard to say, “This is great, just like the 60’s” as they sang Woody Guthrie songs in front of building entrances.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

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