Patterico's Pontifications


Sleep Well, Secure in the Knowledge That the Prison Crisis Is Being Addressed By Three of the Most Liberal Judges on the Planet

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 7:29 am

The L.A. Times is pleased to announce:

A proposed legal settlement in a high-profile federal court case on California prison overcrowding would vastly reduce the number of state inmates without releasing criminals early, by diverting low-risk offenders to community-based rehabilitation programs and county jails.

I’m glad to hear we won’t be releasing criminals early. What will we be doing, then?

Instead of releasing prisoners early — a controversial step that many state and local officials feared the judges would take — the agreement would cut tens of thousands of inmates from the prison population by reducing the number who enter for short stays and those who churn through frequently on parole violations.

They would be given treatment and confined locally, including in home detention and by electronic monitoring.

So we won’t be releasing criminals early. We’ll just be taking tens of thousands of state prisoners and releasing them early giving them home detention and electronic monitoring.

I suppose it could be worse, but the devil is in the details. I gulped a little when I read who’s in charge:

U.S. District Judges Thelton Henderson and Lawrence Karlton and U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt are overseeing the case, in which inmates’ lawyers contend that overcrowding is the primary cause of unconstitutional healthcare and mental healthcare in state prisons.

So, you know, rest easy.

P.S. How does Stephen Reinhardt get in the middle of every hot-button legal issue the State of California ever confronts?? Judges are supposed to be assigned to cases randomly, but somehow, with Stephen Reinhardt, “random” takes on a new meaning when liberal causes are involved . . .

UPDATE: In comments, prosecutor JRM seems to think that this deal would be tantamount to releasing criminals early. What with the local jails kicking everyone loose early, and home monitoring being a joke for people whose record earned them a prison stretch.

But they’re not releasing criminals early, JRM. I read it in the L.A. Times!


  1. I realize its the California constitution under discussion, but still this phrase gave me pause:

    of unconstitutional healthcare and mental healthcare

    Comment by EW1(SG) (84e813) — 5/20/2008 @ 7:36 am

  2. Wait, what?

    They’re going to be put in the county jails, which have *plenty* of room in… well, I don’t know any county that doesn’t have *some* sort of early kicks at some time.

    And home monitoring! I’m sure our recidivist dope-dealing car thieves will be JUST FINE being asked to stay at home, which is totally the same as prison.

    Reducing parole violator stays? Perfect! Get enough of a history to go to prison, get out of prison, do something wrong, and…. what, get a stern warning? Look, they’re not ending up in local jails, unless the jails stop incarcerating everyone else.

    This is insanity. Build more prisons. Allow more prisoners in the current prisons. Eek.


    “Releasing criminals will hurt our nation’s prison industry, not to mention our nation’s not-being murdered industry, which a lot of people rely on their livelihood for.” – Stephen Colbert

    Comment by JRM (355c21) — 5/20/2008 @ 7:40 am

  3. Yeah, but JRM, they’re not releasing criminals early!

    I read it in the L.A. Times!

    Comment by Patterico (cb443b) — 5/20/2008 @ 7:44 am

  4. Wasn’t there a news story about some sexual preditor, some pedophile, cutting off his electronic monitoring divice, and then disappearing?

    Comment by Scott Jacobs (fa5e57) — 5/20/2008 @ 7:44 am

  5. You don’t have to jail any criminal killed in the commission of a crime or fleeing from the law.

    Comment by PCD (5c49b0) — 5/20/2008 @ 8:21 am

  6. This wouldnt be the CALIFORNIA STUPIDPEUM COURT would it? a shamless bunch of stupid mindless jerks

    Comment by krazy kagu (73f19c) — 5/20/2008 @ 8:27 am

  7. How many illegal aliens are taking up space in the California Correctional System?

    Comment by kimsch (2ce939) — 5/20/2008 @ 8:41 am

  8. Putting a drug dealer at home is great! that is where they found him dealing drugs in the first place.

    I guess they want to keep the scum employed

    Comment by Typical Whte Person (9f4d2e) — 5/20/2008 @ 8:42 am

  9. Reminds me of the great State Hospital crisis circa 1970, where the looney bins state hospitals were overcrowded, people were being neglected, and many inmates were thought to be able to live on the outside with community support. Why not choose freedom over institutionalization? At lower cost, of course.

    And, having been on a high school field trip to the local SH at the time, I have to admit the reformers had a point. Conditions WERE bad.

    So, they emptied out the institutions, with the promise of state money for local mental health facilities. Which either didn’t materialize, or were diverted locally to more pressing needs (i.e. things voters wanted).

    In the end these folks became the homeless crazies one still sees today.

    Damn but if I don’t hear an echo of this in this local-release policy.

    Comment by Kevin Murphy (0b2493) — 5/20/2008 @ 8:43 am

  10. BTW, how come STRIKE tags work in preview, but not in the actual post? Seems like a CSS problem somewhere.

    Comment by Kevin Murphy (0b2493) — 5/20/2008 @ 8:44 am

  11. So in about two or three years then we should be getting the story about the home-detention inmate who ignores the restriction and goes out to rape and kill some teenager. It will turn out that the state and counties are woefully underfunded in terms of their ability to monitor and track these folks, and we’ll hear yet again about the need for more funding for “rehabilitation” and more state employees needed for this diversion program.

    Comment by JVW (c86819) — 5/20/2008 @ 8:50 am

  12. Here’s an odd thing: if the problem is that state prison medical care would cost too much to provide, and so we’re releasing these folks to local authority, what does that imply about their continuing health care?

    Either there is a constitutional right to free health care that one only gets by being incarcerated in state prison (so that the punishment isn’t “cruel” or “unusual”), and the local authorities can just ignore their health care, or the state is just dumping the problem locally.

    In other words, is the right to free health care just for criminals in state prison, or does it apply to all criminals? What crime does one have to commit to get free health care? I know some people who might consider it.

    Comment by Kevin Murphy (0b2493) — 5/20/2008 @ 8:59 am

  13. First, the state and counties go to great lengths to avoid paying for health care of inmates admitted to private hospitals. I can recall many instances when hospital patients I cared for were NOT arrested until they were discharged from the hospital so we could not bill the county (Orange). I can also recall quite a few of them slipping away the day before discharge once they realized what the next day had on offer. Did the Sheriff’s office get upset at this evasion of prosecution ? Not that I could see. I would sometimes call them to inform them that a patient, usually a trauma case, was going to be discharged tomorrow. No response.

    No political lesson is ever learned permanently. In the 1960s crime spiraled out of control until criminals began to be incarcerated. Even today, the lesson has not been learned as we see the NY Times and LA Times published thumb sucker articles about the mystery of rising prison populations when crime rates are falling. They have never heard of cause and effect. We will get to learn the lesson in another 25 years just as England is learning it now, or at least will soon when their crime rate reaches NY City in 1974.

    Comment by Mike K (86bddb) — 5/20/2008 @ 9:13 am

  14. #12 Kevin Murphy:

    In other words, is the right to free health care just for criminals in state prison, or does it apply to all criminals? What crime does one have to commit to get free health care? I know some people who might consider it.

    Considering that my medical deductions were over $35K last year, I might consider moving to California.

    As long as I don’t have to hurt anybody.

    Oh, and the “strike” button above the comment box only inserts "<s>" rather than "<strike>" which does work as expected when spelled out.

    Comment by EW1(SG) (84e813) — 5/20/2008 @ 9:19 am

  15. #7 From an article dated 12-23-07

    California Prisoner Realease

    According to various estimates from the Center for Immigration Reform, the Federation for American Immigration Reform and the Government Accounting Office, illegal aliens account from 15 to 18% of our inmate population. California offers free room and board to 173,000 inmates. If we take the lower estimate of the illegal alien incarcerated population the number should be roughly 26,000 inmates. Strikingly this number is very close to the target set by the Governor.

    I have seen these same statistics numerous times as well as a radio interview with the director of the CA prison system on the Roger Hedgecock radio program in San Diego.

    Comment by Jay Curtis (8f6541) — 5/20/2008 @ 9:34 am

  16. And, for those prisoners who have been so traumatized by their incarceration (wrongfully, no doubt), that they will need remedial therapy to again function in an open society, I am sure J. Reinhardt will propose that they be assigned to a “half-way house” program – probably at Club Med!
    I wonder if they have one in Zimbabwe?

    Can’t wait for the new poster of our good Justices as the “see, hear, say no evil” trio.

    Comment by Another Drew (8018ee) — 5/20/2008 @ 9:35 am

  17. Despite my liberal leanings, I consider our criteria for incarceration insane. Make a mistake, get one chance. Make a second “mistake”, get the hardest kick in the pants society can administer. Not ten “mistakes”, with ten victims, the crimes more serious each time, before some sane judge says “enough”.

    Comment by nk (d7f5f5) — 5/20/2008 @ 9:37 am

  18. Don’t forget Reinhardt’s wife is Ramona Ripston, who was the President of the ACLU in Los Angeles when I lived in CA. I think that is a conflict of interest, but not to Liberal Democrats who believe that the only conflict of interest is Lation Rights Vs African-American Rights.

    Comment by PCD (5c49b0) — 5/20/2008 @ 9:41 am

  19. Home arrest would be just peachy if it were enforced with some of those nifty exploding collars from The Running Man. In the real world, not so much.

    Comment by M. Scott Eiland (b66190) — 5/20/2008 @ 9:41 am

  20. “I think that is a conflict of interest”

    What’s the conflict?

    Comment by stef (688568) — 5/20/2008 @ 9:52 am

  21. I suggest that they put a half-way house next door to the judges.

    Comment by Neo (cba5df) — 5/20/2008 @ 12:24 pm

  22. Re: Kevin Murphey at #9.

    Reminds me of the great State Hospital crisis circa 1970, where the looney bins state hospitals were overcrowded,…

    The move for “de-institutionalization” of the mentally ill began in the late 50′s. With the election of John Kennedy, who had a mentally ill sister, Rosemary, these efforts found an ally and became codified in the; “Community Mental Health Centers Act of 1965″. If one is interested, I recommend reading JFK’s speech to Congress regarding this act, and it can be found in its entirety at the UC Santa Barbara’s presidential speech archives at:

    Kennedy’s speech is remarkable in its assumptions of the efficacy of the provisions of this act. To wit: its faith in the psychotropic drugs of the day, in surgical procedures (Rosemary had a lobotomy), and in the ability to fund the mentally ill patients needs on an outpatient basis. To say that JFK’s intentions were good is to state the obvious, to say that he was naive, is a gross understatement.

    And, having been on a high school field trip to the local SH at the time, I have to admit the reformers had a point. Conditions WERE bad.

    No doubt, but so are the streets. What the reformers assumed about the poor conditions in mental hospitals was that it was always the institution or the staff that was to blame. The concept that the crazy tend to “mess their own nest”, had not occurred to them, or if it did, was egregiously ignored. I think the later.

    So, they emptied out the institutions, with the promise of state money for local mental health facilities. Which either didn’t materialize, or were diverted locally to more pressing needs (i.e. things voters wanted).

    The funding began in 1965. That’s the beginning of the “Psychedelic 60′s” and it is not coincidental. However, as time went on, funding began to be reduced because of Medicare (“The old vote, the crazy don’t” : LBJ) as well as under Nixon, Ford and Carter. Reagan gets so much of the blame because he put what funding remained into the “Block Grant Program to States”. Problem was, the states thought this was all “new money” and failed to fund what Mental Health Centers remained. Reagan got the blame, deserved or not.

    I’ll not take up any more of Patterico’s comments space except to close that when I began the search for the causes of the homelessness and drug abuse that did not pervade my growing up in the 50′s and 60′s, the answers I found were like finding the rock in my shoe and removing it. The pain, however, did not subside. The lack of mental institutions is the cause of the need for more prisons. It’s not a zero-sum game. If we build mental hospitals instead, the crime rate will subside geometrically.

    Comment by C. Norris (1e6dd0) — 5/20/2008 @ 5:35 pm

  23. The move to remove folks from state hospitals in CA happened during the late 60′s and 70′s in Gov Reagan’s years. It may well have been earlier back east, but I LIVED through the period and I remember the debate in California. The promise was the marginally ill would get help locally with funding for the state, but that never came to pass outside of a few communities like Santa Monica.

    As for nationally … you do know that these matters were almost entirely state concerns at that time. HEW was just startingout.

    Comment by Kevin Murphy (805c5b) — 5/20/2008 @ 6:09 pm

  24. In any event, the current idea of placing state prisoners back into the community with promises of funding to follow will probably ring as hollow.

    You can only do so much with a GPS/Cell bracelet. Especially if no one is maintaining the equipment or monitoring the return. Not to mention that GPS works really badly indoors….

    Comment by Kevin Murphy (805c5b) — 5/20/2008 @ 6:13 pm

  25. Well said, C.Norris except for this: “If we build mental hospitals instead, the crime rate will subside geometrically.”

    At the same time as the events you describe, court decisions greatly altered the standards for involuntary commitment, so no, it would not.

    Comment by SPQR (26be8b) — 5/20/2008 @ 7:04 pm

  26. Well, “we” won’t build more mental hospitals or kick out illegal aliens or protect society from criminals until we the people vote the bums out.

    It still amazes me that California defeated the reapportionment initiative that would have taken redistricting out of the hands of pols. I guess we have the government we deserve.

    Comment by Patricia (f56a97) — 5/20/2008 @ 7:39 pm

  27. “It still amazes me that California defeated the reapportionment initiative that would have taken redistricting out of the hands of pols.” Willie Brown defeated the initiative by lying, and then, bragged about it after the election.

    Brown was exultant over the election results, and he got carried away with himself. During a speech at the San Francisco Press Club, Brown described his commercials opposing Proposition 39 as “the most extensive collection of con jobs I’ve ever seen.”[44] Other Democrats flinched when they heard about Brown’s line. “Apparently the Speaker was in his show-off mood,” Howard Berman said, trying to shrug it off. Republicans tried to take advantage of Brown’s flippancy as if that could reverse the election results. “Willie Brown, by his own admission, conned the people of California,” Sebastiani declared.

    Comment by Mike K (86bddb) — 5/20/2008 @ 8:51 pm

  28. Fine as long as those three liberal crinimal coddling judges take those rapists,child molesters,robbers, murders,black mailers and such and take them into their homes and cares for them for the rest of their lives

    Comment by krazy kagu (06d0a6) — 5/21/2008 @ 1:05 pm

  29. I agree with you, Kevin Murphy, at #23. I lived in CA at this time as well. From birth until I was drafted in 1967 and returned in ’69. I do know that Gov. Reagan signed the California State version of the CMHC Act during the ’70′s in order to receive the intended federal funds. What happened with that, I do not know. For now.

    However, while I was in the service, my former high school sweetheart died of an overdose of heroin. I was perplexed! She was a straight “A” student and made me keep my hands were they belonged (at the time). How she could go from “Queen of the Hop” to a slab in the morgue in less than a year was a total mystery. Then I learned that her neighbor’s boy, and her childhood friend, had been released from Patton State Hospital under the auspices of the CMHC. He OD’d three months after her. Need I elaborate? I didn’t understand until I “walked the cat back” on the internet regarding the connections between the mentally ill and drug abuse. Many who contribute at this website are professionally aware of the connections between drugs and crime. With the addition of the mental illness, the equation then becomes an unholy trinity of the causes of our society’s miseries.

    To SPQR at #25:

    …court decisions greatly altered the standards for involuntary commitment,..”

    Yes. The ACLU has arranged it so that the mentally ill can only be involuntarily committed if, and when, they become a “danger to themselves or to others”. In other words, when they have finally committed a crime. The mentals in the prisons are now a testament to that misguided policy. I don’t see any hope for the future with the political conditions nationally and in California. The Left has paved this road to perdition, way too deep, with their misguided “good intentions”.

    Comment by C. Norris (acfe40) — 5/21/2008 @ 5:44 pm

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