Patterico's Pontifications

5/23/2011

Supreme Court Mandates Release of Up to 37,000 Prisoners in California and I Make a Modest Proposal to Fix the Problem

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 12:18 pm



[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

So via Hot Air we learn that the Supreme Court has ordered around 37,000 prisoners to be released from California State Prisons.  So if anyone was worried about Patrick having job security, worry no more.

The short version is this.  The state’s prison system is woefully overcrowded.  According to the Court, state’s prisons are designed to hold 80,000 people.  At the time of trial, they held 156,000 people.  But the Constitutional violation alleged here is from the lack of medical care, stemming from that overpopulation—that is too few doctors for too many prisoners.  So, according to the Supreme Court, as many as 37,000 people will have to be released (since 9,000 have been released during the trial and pendency of the appeal) to meet a cap of 110,000.  That can be done by the release of the “less-bad” ones, or by transferring them out of state.  Also, although the order doesn’t presently contemplate hiring more staff, the Supreme Court seemed to indicate that this might work as well:

The order in fact permits the State to comply with the population limit by transferring prisoners to county facilities or facilities in other States, or  by constructing new facilities to raise the prisons’ design capacity.  And the three-judge court’s order does not bar  the State from undertaking any other remedial efforts.  If the State does find an adequate remedy  other than a population limit, it may seek modification or termination of the three-judge court’s order on that basis.

But it’s also worth noting that as of now, the state can’t even transfer prisoners because they can’t demonstrate that the new place won’t also be non-compliant:

The State complains that the Coleman District Court slowed the rate of transfer by requiring inspections to assure that the receiving institutions were in compliance with the Eighth Amendment, but the State has made no effort to show that it has the resources  and the capacity to transfer significantly larger numbers of prisoners absent that condition.

I’ll leave aside the constitutional question involved here.  This Court already demonstrated its unserious approach to the Eighth Amendment when it declared that it was unconstitutional to execute a man for raping his eight-year-old daughter so violently it ruptured the wall between her vagina and her anus, even though the same Constitution specifically allows for execution for far less heinous crimes.  Sorry to disgust you, but you really have to contemplate how horrific the crime was in that case to grasp how wrong the Supreme Court’s ruling was in that matter.  As far as the Eighth Amendment goes, this is about policy preferences and not the Constitution.  That being said, I don’t see this as a radical departure from previous precedents (equally based on policy and not the Constitution itself).

And on the policy issue, while I am pretty tough on crime, even I think that this overcrowding sounds like it is too much.  I want prison to be unpleasant, but there are limits, and since we are talking about the problem of prison overcrowding, let’s consider a few facts.  For instance, there are about 700 prisoners on death row.  Why not speedily execute them and reduce the problem by that much?

And then there is another significant contribution to our prison population.  Right now our border is porous.  If we deport all of the illegal immigrants in California’s prisons, many would come back within days.  But if we had border security in this country (imagine that!), how many could we get rid of?  Well, according to the GAO, in 2008, illegal immigrants accounted for 27,000 state prisoners.  Now ask yourself this.  How many of the remaining prisoners are legal immigrants who are now deportable because of their crimes?  Thus in theory California might be able to deport its way out of the problem, if only we had some assurance that they wouldn’t come right back.

And that doesn’t have to add up to these criminals running loose in their home countries.  We could easily hand them into those nations’ custody along with their criminal records, and let them decide whether to hold them any longer.

But all that also ignores the real problem, which is the difficulty in finding doctors willing to treat prisoners.  My cousin, for instance, worked as a prison doctor.  He is a thin, nerdy man (I say that with love, but also brutal honesty).  Naturally he feared being attacked.  But he also feared the jailhouse “lawyers”* who spent their free time drafting legal complains for other prisoners.  The laws applying to malpractice to prisoners are surely justified on the most noble humanitarian grounds—ensuring that prisoners receive the same minimal quality of care the rest of us get.  But it is driving doctors away, such as my cousin who quit the moment he was financially able to.  Assume (as I know) that my cousin is a brilliant doctor, but human enough to fear a mistake would ruin him.  Did his departure leave his patients better off, or worse off?

I am sure there are other reasons for this overcrowding and the lack of medical staff that Patrick and others would happily recite off the top of their heads.  So please have at it in the comments.

————————————————————

* I don’t believe there are any lawyers currently in prison.  This is not because lawyers are uniquely unlikely to commit a crime, but it is my understanding that if a lawyer is convicted of a sufficiently serious crime, he or she will lose their license.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

167 Responses to “Supreme Court Mandates Release of Up to 37,000 Prisoners in California and I Make a Modest Proposal to Fix the Problem”

  1. this is the state what spent three billion dollars creating a fabulous stem cell collection at the behest of a flagrant maid-boffing man-whore

    Screw em.

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  2. How about not sentencing people for 25-to-life for stealing VHS tapes?

    Andrew (bedcea)

  3. Yeah! Screw ’em! Cause you know those released prisoners are all gonna stay in California.

    MunDane (54a83b)

  4. will the 37,000 criminals be immediately reflected in the unemployment statistics?

    I will be curious to see.

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  5. they’re not gonna go far on $4 gas Mr. MunDane

    even real people are having a hard time

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  6. andrew

    they are only sentence to life if they committed two prior crimes. so how about they stop committing crimes, instead.

    i like my idea of deporting the deportable instead… and then securing the border so they don’t come right back in.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  7. Note that the court’s reasoning depended to some degree on the fact that California has been out of compliance with less drastic court orders regarding provision of mental health since 1996 and with less drastic orders regarding physical health care since 2002.

    Basically, California is unwilling to either prioritize its prisoner population or build and staff enough prisons to house the prisoners, for an extended period of time, and the court explicitly said it didn’t trust us to comply with any less demanding ruling.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  8. Happyfeet: the state has two years to come into compliance, so they won’t all be released tomorrow.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  9. Andrew, you really want to pick a better patron saint of the unjustness of the Three Strikes law than Leo Andrade.

    By the time of his sentencing, he had been in and out of prison for close to 20 years and had such “harmless” felonies as residential burglary and escape from prison on his record. This was not some harmless guy caught up by ‘The Man’.

    MunDane (54a83b)

  10. Dummerer than a sack of andrews remains a relevant metric. Thank you.

    JD (306f5d)

  11. oh. I see. Maybe in the meantime we could just take the Obama approach of killing suspects as opposed to capturing them. That would ameliorate a lot of the problem I bet.

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  12. Aaron: look up _Wilson v Knowles_, a case of a dude sentenced to life after he (a) pled guilty to a drunk driving incident which killed someone (but which counted as two priors) and, (b) was arrested again for drunk driving eight years later. (The Ninth Circuit vacated his sentence on technical grounds regarding whether a judge could make conclusions about prior offenses under _Apprendi_, or whether those conclusions had to be made by a jury; this is actually the topic of my paper for my sentencing policy class).

    The point here is: ‘two prior offenses’ is a slippery concept, and there are quite a few people in California prisons who (a) have life sentences and (b) were not quite the career criminals the drafters of the three strikes had in mind.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  13. Oh right, Andrew. Cause the idea of stealing money or a car never dawns on them…

    And, heyyy, lookit! Grand Theft Auto is classified as non-violent for the purposes of release! Cool. I am sure they will respect the property of others when they instantly become productive members of society…

    MunDane (54a83b)

  14. California voters deserve the thousands of felons that will be dumped upon them from its prisons. We have rewarded the prison guard union and politicians who cowtow to them with so much of our budget, that it is bankrupting us.Our state spends $47,000 per prisoner each year (that’s 50% higher than the national average) for over 170,000 prisoners. Most of that goes into the exorbitant salaries of the prison guards to be partially recycled into the campaign coffers of the politicos. If we simply paid the same as the national average for each prisoner, CA could easily afford to hose all of the felons that will now be dumped on our streets.

    Barry Davis (7e83e9)

  15. JD

    now, now, i know andrew sullivan is pretty dumb, but andrew brietbart? so not all andrews are bad…

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  16. a lot of the cost is driven by the union whore prison guard salaries and the requisite ginormous sums of overtime you have to pay these losers

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  17. oh. Sorry didn’t refresh fast enough.

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  18. I’ll never understand the attempts to gain sympathy for three strikes offenders. You’re caught committing a serious crime. You don’t reform, and are caught again, and you don’t reform.

    If you’re in that position, you need to thank God you’ve been given a third chance, and walk an extremely mild existence devoted to repaying society 100% of the time you can. It’s a huge gift that they got this third chance. Instead, they take something that belonged to someone else, and refuse to get along with the world.

    My only gripe is that their conditions in prison exceed the conditions of some deployed soldiers. The cruel and unusual scam is interesting because you can constantly use unusually mild treatment, and as that becomes the norm, you can’t go back to what was normal treatment.

    We should take a page from Russia and establish a prison system deep in Alaska’s most desolate wastes. They can spend their time struggling to produce food and clean water, reading only books that are directly educational, and not released until they can pass tests showing they have learned a trade from such books.

    It should be hard enough that the weaker felons consider suicide when convicted. I know some will say that means it’s cruel, but no, these are people who think an honest living is too hard, so they don’t get to decide what’s cruel, either.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  19. Why do i agree with Happyfeet?

    DohBiden (15aa57)

  20. Here in Arizona GTA is usually an initiation rite into the local gang. A friend of mine was shot in the leg during one of these rituals. I am cynical but my guess is that if the victim gives up the car keys and the wannabe gang banger drives away in the car it is mission successful. If the victim does a runner the mission is considered successful if the perp shoots at the fleeing victim. Extra points if the bullet hits someone, preferably the victim.

    What is the progression? graffiti, GTA, Murder? I was raised in Compton, CA. The last time I went to the alumni office in Paramount I was told by the guard not to come back but to stay at home and conduct my business over the internet.

    California is a pathology all it’s own.

    vet66 (eb4cdb)

  21. Dustin, respectfully, you should read the opinion. At least the facts section (as the law is rather opaque).

    Some excerpts:

    suicidal inmates may be held for pro-longed periods in telephone-booth sized cages without toilets. See Appendix C, infra. A psychiatric expert re-ported observing an inmate who had been held in such acage for nearly 24 hours, standing in a pool of his ownurine, unresponsive and nearly catatonic. Prison officials explained they had “‘no place to put him.’”

    also

    A correctional officer testified that, in one prison, up to 50sick inmates may be held together in a 12- by 20-foot cagefor up to five hours awaiting treatment

    and

    A prisoner with severeabdominal pain died after a 5-week delay in referral to aspecialist; a prisoner with “constant and extreme” chest pain died after an 8-hour delay in evaluation by a doctor;and a prisoner died of testicular cancer after a “failure of MDs to work up for cancer in a young man with 17 monthsof testicular pain.”

    and

    Both preventable and possibly preventable deaths involve major lapses in medical care and are a serious cause for concern. In one typical case classified as a possibly preventable death, an analysisrevealed the following lapses: “16 month delay in evaluating abnormal liver mass; 8 month delay in receiving regular chemotherapy . . . ;multiple providers fail to respond to jaundice and abnormal liverfunction tests causing 17 month delay in diagnosis.”

    and

    “[A] San Quentin prisoner with hypertension, diabetesand renal failure was prescribed two different medica-tions that actually served to exacerbate his renal fail-ure. An optometrist noted the patient’s retinal bleed-ing due to very high blood pressure and referred himfor immediate evaluation, but this evaluation never took place. It was not until a year later that the pa-tient’s renal failure was recognized, at which point he was referred to a nephrologist on an urgent basis; he should have been seen by the specialist within 14 days but the consultation never happened and the pa-tient died three months later.

    Basically, the idea is that the system is so systemically understaffed that even minimally adequate care isn’t available, and people are dying as a result.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  22. aprhael; and just how will the situation improve with the release of prisoners? How will prisoners afford health care on the outside with doctors not accepting new patients on medicare and medicaid? Private insurance with a prisoner’s skill set?

    Nothing makes waiting in the doctor’s office sitting next to a tatooed felon cradling a testicle a fun way to spend the morning. I also wonder how many of these medical problems are a direct result of lack of medical coverage before the incarceration? Now the results of that lack of preventative medicine is heaped on an overburdened society that can barely cover the average citizen.

    We can’t afford proper probationary folks, prisons, giving free medication to convicts with the admonition that you can’t drink alcohol or smoke dope if you are taking the medicine, or food and shelter. I worked for the railroad in L.A. and the police routinely told the bindlestiffs and assorted nut cases to sleep it off in a boxcar somewhere. We have already been through this scenareio and it failed miserably.

    The pathetic truth is that they will die in prison or they will die on the street. The only ones benefitting from this tragedy will be the lawyers somebody because some derelick didn’t receive cradle-to-grave congressional style medicine because of bad lifestyle choices.

    Of course that brings us back to California, the GOLDEN STATE where prisoners probably sue because of a lack of granola choices in the chow line or it’s citizens want the state to pay for aroma therapy on the taxpayer dime. This country is going broke and some will suffer as a result. Here is a choice for California, which has priority in your world? Delta smelt or medicaid?

    The last time I hear Green Jobs were high on the list in California and the east coast. Try Soylent Green and see how that works out for you. Meahwhile, I am recovering from being rearended on the I-5/605 interchange a year or so ago by an uninsured NAFTA trucker with no insurance. I asked the CHP guy, who refused to issue a citation to the driver, if I was going to be required to invite the driver and his family to our house for Thanksgiving or cinco de mayo, whichever came first. Our RV was totaled and I still have visions of Peterbilt where our kitchen used to be. This situation is unsustainable.

    vet66 (eb4cdb)

  23. vet66: No citation? WTF? Is insurance not required in CA? He might as well have fled on foot, as is so common around here when there is an accident. If they are able, they run.

    PatAZ (96c670)

  24. Aphrael, some of that stuff sounds miserable. But Prison should be miserable.

    I think medical care should be there, but it should be pretty limited. Obviously, medical care is not a ‘luxury’, but it makes sense to me that prisons are places you’re more likely to suffer and have problems.

    The only kind of health care I think should be increased in prisons is mental health. The other kind of health care should be focused on limiting contagions from spreading too much.

    Yes, the rationing of health care and staff and money means that prisoners will not be as healthy. It’s like death panels, basically.

    I actually think that’s a good thing. I don’t to incentivize crime. If you come down with cancer, you should be more likely to survive by staying out of prison, rather than going in. Extreme example, I know.

    Prison should be a terrible place. Things like rape and mental health should be major focuses of administration, but regular health care? I don’t care if a prisoner spends 25 years in prison without a check up.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  25. Vet66: those who aren’t released will have less competition for the attention of those who provide care within the system.

    note, too, what I said above: California is not required to release prisoners. It is required to achieve a better balance between actual population and official capacity of the prisons. Right now we’re just under double capacity; the idea is to get down to ~135%.

    We can do that by release, or by shipping prisoners out of state, or by building new prisons and staffing them.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  26. where prisoners probably sue because of a lack of granola choices in the chow line or it’s citizens want the state to pay for aroma therapy on the taxpayer dime

    I just listed some of the actual examples of why prisoners in California are suing. You are responding by dismissing those examples and instead conjuring up hypotheticals which aren’t backed by actual cases.

    Can you provide citations to cases where these suits have been filed and not dismissed before trial?

    If not, can you refrain from using unsubstantiated hypotheticals as a reason why actual legitimate complaints should be ignored?

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  27. I guess another way to phrase my POV is that if you want to make sure you are healthy, you need to stay out of prison. If you like TV, clean clothing, hot meals, showers every day, access to doctors who give a crap about you, don’t go to prison.

    Now, that doesn’t mean I want to torture prisoners or put them in truly ghastly, inhumanly cruel prisons. I don’t want to go out of my way to make them suffer. I just insist on not going out of my way to help someone in prison very much.

    They should have books on trade skills, if they have mental problems, that needs to be looked at, prison rapists should be in a straight jacket for the rest of their lives (how else do we deal with them?). But really, tiny cells, infections, things like that? Sorry… don’t steal stuff if you really mind those conditions.

    We also shouldn’t let people out of prison simply because they were there for a certain period of time. I would rather that be a necessary but insufficient factor. They should spend every free moment they aren’t working to help support prison function reading books so that they are eligible for release by proving they have learned a skill.

    And, I say this out of compassion for these people. I don’t think we’re doing them any favors putting them in the prison system we have today.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  28. Dustin: the cases I listed include several cases where people died because they were not treated, either in obvious emergency situations or over an extended enough period of time that the lack of treatment amounts to criminal negligence.

    These people weren’t sentenced to death. That means that basic life-saving medical treatment should be available. It isn’t, at least not reliably so. California is just not meeting its basic level of responsibility, here.

    If you were to ask me, I’d vote for bonds to build new prisons. But the voters of California disagreed with me the last time we were asked. So: we won’t voluntarily either increase capacity or restructure our system so that the number of people we imprison is in line with capacity. And yet by not doing so, we fail to meet basic health care needs of the prisoners. The situation isn’t OK.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  29. My proposal: make a list of the 27 people most responsible for this decision, starting with the lawyers who brought the case, the district and 9th circuit judges who decided it along the way, right through to the five justices in this majority. Bus 1000 prisoners to the home of each person on the list, and release them outside that person’s front door. Tell them that they have that person to thank for their freedom, and suggest they do so. Leaflet the neighbours, explaining that there are 1000 newly-released felons wandering in their neighbourhood, apologising for the inconvenience, but explaining that their neighbour forced the state to release them, and that since they had to be released somewhere, why not here? Include the target’s phone number and email for complaints.

    I mean, nothing in the order requires the state to release these people inside California, does it?

    Milhouse (9ef3cc)

  30. Obama just picked up 37,000 more votes in Cali!!!!

    BT (74cbec)

  31. Spent the morning reading through new e-mails from our Neighborhood Watch here in L.A., alerting us to crimes in the area that are growing more frequent, more brazen, and more violent. Then checked the news headlines and saw that Anthony Kennedy thinks we need more thugs on the street, because conditions in prison are insufficiently comfortable for them. What a fucking dope.

    Kevin Stafford (abdb87)

  32. PatAZ;

    The scam is to pay for insurance then cancel it when the proof of insurance card is generated by the computer is received in the mail. Seems the DOT weigh stations ask for “papeles por favor” but rarely check to see if the policy is in force. In my case, the mailing address for the insurance company was in San Ysidro on the border. When the insurance was verified as canceled the trail went cold. Proof of insurance means little if it is not checked. The CHP officer told me the insurance companies would take care of who was at fault.

    Aphrael: you sound genteel enough so I will give you the benefit of the doubt. Part of my duties on the railroad involved accident investigation. Whether it was train vs pedestrian, train vs car/truck, derailments of all kinds I have dealt with lawyers going after big companies with anticipated deep pockets for legitimate as well as nuisance lawsuits. The citations I will provide is standing in the rain at 0300 in the morning after the bars close trying to figure out why one of our trains t-boned a vehicle at a crossing protected by flashing lights and crossing gates. Or how about a hobo released from prison because of overcrowding who drinks alcohol and not taking his prescribed anti-psychotic medicine. Trying to keep warm he lights a fire in an empty box car with a wood floor and burns it to the ground. Who pays? Next thing I know I am explaining in front of a judge just how could I have let this happen and the family wants restitution because the victim ate too many twinkies while growing up.

    Don’t hide behind citations because the neighborhood this poor soul was thrown out of could have been yours and we ended up with him. Cite that! After midnight the demographics change while regular folks turn up their electric blankets and future citations commence their mischief. Ever drive through the back roads of San Joaquin valley and look at all the debris thrown out beside the roads or in the canals? Overhead electric lines being harvested for free electricity to power the squatters living in abandoned homes? Where is the EPA enforcing the rules there?

    I appreciate your interest in the goings-on outside the halls of justice and academia. You’re turn!

    vet66 (eb4cdb)

  33. These people weren’t sentenced to death. That means that basic life-saving medical treatment should be available. It isn’t, at least not reliably so. California is just not meeting its basic level of responsibility, here.

    I think we disagree on what is a basic level of responsibility.

    Yes, I really am saying that being sentenced to prison should mean you’re being sentenced to an inferior health system.

    We just honestly disagree. I don’t think bonds for better services or prisons is the answer. I think the answer is to redefine cruel and unusual down from this ‘if you die in prison, that is the same as being executed’. It’s not. You should be more likely to get sick in prison than outside. Life should be worse for a prisoner than a deployed soldier, poor American, etc.

    Now, emergency life saving treatment? Some of that should be available. Not enough that people feel safer in prison than on the streets these criminals have made unsafe.

    As ghastly as that sounds, I really just want prisoners to figure out that they need to avoid crimes.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  34. Maobama got 37,000 more vites in Mexifornia.

    DohBiden (15aa57)

  35. and, I think this is a political issue, rather than a constitutional issue.

    If you think your government owes the perpetrators of crime wonderful levels of health care, that is something to vote and discuss rather than to litigate.

    It’s not an 8th amendment violation if the state doesn’t assume it owes criminals something beyond food, water.

    Now, I do think we should be die hard about 4th and 6th amendment rights, in the direction of making sure jurors, defenders, warrants are all at the peak. That’s expensive, and worth it. But once your extremely fair and scrupulous trial convicts you, society owes you very very little.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  36. “I don’t care if a prisoner spends 25 years in prison without a check up.”

    Really.
    Think that one through. Maybe the guards get ill, or when a prisoner is released he/she can spread disease and/or be a huge drain on health resources.
    It make more sense to get out in front of health issues… if only for everyone else’s sake.

    “Yes, I really am saying that being sentenced to prison should mean you’re being sentenced to an inferior health system.”
    Ah. It already does.

    Take all the kids in prison for graffitti crimes and make them work for the public works all day and then put an ankle bracelet on them at night.
    Give them a stipend for their labor.
    The state could insure around any job accidents etc.

    This argument reminds me of one I had with a guy who didn’t want to let the children of illegals go to the elementary schools… which I agree with on the face, but in reality it’d just flood the streets with millions of little unattended urchins some selling flowers, oranges, and others stealing stuff. Then they grow up totally uneducated… and if you think we have gang problems now.

    Anyway, I think that if you run through all of the ramifications of denying health care to inmates, it doesn’t make sense.
    You’d get TB outbreaks, cholera, hepatitis, MRSA, legionnaires type stuff and the guards would take it all home.

    SteveG (cc5dc9)

  37. We’re all a bunch of far-right homophobes who worsip the westboro baptist church.

    /Lefty

    DohBiden (15aa57)

  38. SteveG; I propose a deal. Execute the 700+ on death row immediately, as suggested, and spend that $47K per year that is budgeted for death row inmates on prison doctors. That would relieve crowding and improve conditions inside the prisons.

    Can’t have your cake and eat it too. What say you!?

    vet66 (eb4cdb)

  39. “Why not speedily execute them and reduce the problem by that much?”

    – Aaron Worthing

    Yeah, because if there’s one thing you want to make sure you do hastily, it’s execute someone. That’s never backfired before, right?

    Leviticus (6eb105)

  40. I’m quite the law and order type. But I’ve never understood why so many conservatives are completely without proportion or compassion when it comes to punishing criminals. While prisons aren’t supposed to be pleasant, neither should the be hells on earth. A civilized society has a moral responsibility to see to it that its convicts receive at least a minimal standard of decent treatment. Prisons should be clean, safe, and not inhumanely overcrowded, and all prisoners should receive decent food, proper health care, and a chance at some kind of remedial education, for use whenever he gets out–and nearly all of them will sooner or later get out. To me, this all seems like an obvious application of common sense and Christian morals. Am I wrong?

    jesme (fc2d23)

  41. Leviticus, you could cut 75% off the delay in executions and not be “hastily” doing anything.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  42. Vet66: most of your examples seem to be off-topic; this boils down to an unfocused “people file stupid lawsuits, so therefore all lawsuits are stupid” syllogism.

    Ever drive through the back roads of San Joaquin valley and look at all the debris thrown out beside the roads or in the canals

    Yes. My preference when travelling from point A to point B is always to take the back roads, if I can (I can’t always). I experience the places I’m travelling through much more if I do that.

    Where is the EPA enforcing the rules there?

    That seems a bit off-topic. :)

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  43. I think we disagree on what is a basic level of responsibility.

    That much is clear. :)

    I think this is a political issue, rather than a constitutional issue.

    I both agree and disagree.

    Imagine if the state of California were to decide that, while it agreed that there was a constitutional requirement for trial by jury, it wasn’t going to fund courtrooms. So, people would get arrested, and they’d be held until trial, but it could take three years before they got brought before a magistrate and were granted/denied bail, and it could be fifteen years before trial.

    How much money to allocate to the judicial branch is a political system – but the voters, or the legislature, would in that hypothetical have made a choice which was so far outside the bounds of the Constitution that their choice violated it.

    Which is to say: part of what the constitution does is it restricts the choices states can make. I think the treatment described in this case, at least some of it, falsl on the restricted list.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  44. Maybe the guards get ill, or when a prisoner is released he/she can spread disease and/or be a huge drain on health resources.
    It make more sense to get out in front of health issues… if only for everyone else’s sake.

    I think there are three problems with the reasoning here.

    (a) there’s a distinction between infectious diseases and things like congestive heart failure, cancer, etc, and the latter won’t be spread.

    (b) a lot of these criminals are never getting out, and they’ll never be a drain on some other system’s resources.

    (b) the argument you are making is that it is wise to treat these things earlier rather than later. I agree … but the Constitution doesn’t require wisdom, and the courts have no business imposing their wisdom in preference to the choices of the legislature. Unless the legislature’s choices are simply outside the bounds set by the Constitution.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  45. Leviticus

    how about we just start taking about killing them in only 5 years?

    what’s the objection, precisely? they get dna evidence and automatic appeal.

    The fact is this problem of overcrowding is created in significantly by liberal policies.

    Aaron Worthing (73a7ea)

  46. The fact is this problem of overcrowding is created in significantly by liberal policies.

    *puzzled look*

    If the liberal policy in question is “don’t build new prisons”, then I agree with you. Or if we’re talking about the overcrowding specifically on death row. But the overcrowding in general? What’s the argument?

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  47. Aaron wrote, in this post, “So if anyone was worried about Patrick having job security, worry no more.”

    I never worry about whether the need for his professional services might vanish.

    I do worry about whether his paycheck will bounce or he’ll be paid in worthless IOUs.

    Beldar (7c0dd5)

  48. Be free! Run run! Scurry scurry!

    Shoo!

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  49. Yeah, because if there’s one thing you want to make sure you do hastily, it’s execute someone. That’s never backfired before, right?

    Srsly, when has it?

    Milhouse (9ef3cc)

  50. Aaron, I’m not sure if you were serious or snarky in suggesting that California up its execution rate to reduce prison crowding. I’m thinking snarky, but in any event, it’s vitally important for the integrity of the death penalty system — already so badly broken in California and the Ninth Circuit — not to be undercut by economic concerns, ever.

    “Conservatives want to execute all death-row inmates even before their appeals are done, even the innocent ones about to be exonerated by DNA evidence.”

    ^^^ I suggest that we not give that silly argument to death penalty opponents, especially on a blog whose proprietor is a California prosecutor. But it’s just a suggestion.

    Beldar (7c0dd5)

  51. While prisons aren’t supposed to be pleasant, neither should the be hells on earth

    True. But they should be worse than what the criminal could expect on the outside. Stop providing more medical attention than they would get on the outside, and you’ll have enough resources to provide an acceptable minimum for everybody. Not that I’m a big believer in prison as a punishment; but we made that choice when we banned serious non-prison sentences; we were told that they weren’t needed, because we could just lock the criminal up and we’d be safe. Bring back flogging and we could cut the prison population drastically.

    Milhouse (9ef3cc)

  52. Imagine if the state of California were to decide that, while it agreed that there was a constitutional requirement for trial by jury, it wasn’t going to fund courtrooms. So, people would get arrested, and they’d be held until trial, but it could take three years before they got brought before a magistrate and were granted/denied bail, and it could be fifteen years before trial.

    That sounds like India.

    Milhouse (9ef3cc)

  53. Beldar

    I agree that it shouldn’t be driven by economics. It snarky in that sense, but also on the fact this is one of the reasons we HAVE overcrowding…

    Aaron Worthing (73a7ea)

  54. No, health care in prisons should not be worse. Why should a burglar or even a murderer not receive good medical treatment, when we’ve taken upon ourselves the moral responsibility to care for prisoners? I don’t know why this is so hard to grasp. Ultimately, the way we treat convicts is as much about us–our standards and values–as it is about them. I want criminals treated well partly because I’m not a criminal and don’t want to be anything like them.

    jesme (fc2d23)

  55. If prison isn’t worse than the outside then it’s not a punishment, it’s a reward. That’s not too hard to grasp, is it?

    What makes people criminals is not that they didn’t give people gourmet food and gourmet medicine.

    Milhouse (9ef3cc)

  56. Grow up, Jesme. Take a good look at the goodies handed out to California prisoners — free college, workshops, crafts. You know who doesn’t get those things free, and also often can’t afford healthcare? Only those people who work for a living, instead of causing serial mayhem or sitting on their haunches with their hands stuck out.

    The meme that we are spending too much on prisoner healthcare yet also not providing enough of it is a confabulation of the Soros-driven anti-incarceration movement, stoked by the Soros-funded Vera Institute, Sentencing Project, a dozen other pseudo-research/pseudo-grassroot organs and scores of paid-off (as if they needed encouragement to be more offender-centric) criminologists and law profs. Perhaps the most galling lie promulgated by this cabal is the argument that letting aging offenders out of prison early would let taxpayers off the hook for one thin dime of their medical bills.

    The “expert” class is entirely bought and biased.

    Right up to the Supreme Court.

    Curiously, Andrew, at least one of the thugs who nearly beat an innocent man to death at a ball game wasn’t serving time despite serious priors. Jerry Williams, Robert Ferguson? Try “Thirteen strikes and still not out” (I can’t post the link here, I think). Nothing the media has told you about these cases is the least bit true. The only problem with the California prison system is that it isn’t large enough to contain all the dangerous, violent recidivists walking the streets.

    Tina Trent (7f2406)

  57. it’s vitally important for the integrity of the death penalty system — already so badly broken in California and the Ninth Circuit — not to be undercut by economic concerns, ever.

    The only reason I’d oppose the death penalty is the idea of irreparable error.

    I actually don’t like the current death penalty… somewhere I heard a suggestion that we increase the burden to ‘no possible doubt’. I’d really prefer that. Regardless, I agree with Beldar, but I think Aaron is right that California handling her death row inmates in a sane manner would have the feature of saving a lot of space and money.

    I want a rigorously fair trial, and then I want harsh penalties for offenders. Much of the expense of these prisons is due to concerns they be nicer places. I would rather enslave them into profitable work. Under such a system, I believe the first conviction could offer short sentences, and any sane parolee would never offend again, and those who did could suffer long sentences.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  58. Beldar: Would you object if we started the ball rolling with the execution of Richard Allen Davis, the brutal murderer of a young girl? Or perhaps the 15 years he’s spent on death row isn’t quite enough to vet his appeals.

    Old Coot (9f5f74)

  59. old coot

    in beldar’s defense you do know he is a texan right?

    his only point was to say you don’t kill people faster for economic reasons. and he is right. that doesn’t mean you don’t kill them. I don’t know what specifically he feels about the death penalty, but i see no reason to read his objection as a general one against the entire death penalty.

    Aaron Worthing (73a7ea)

  60. One problem with the esteemed Mr Worthing’s logic is that he believes those felons deported will simply return, because he is assuming that they must be deported to someplace from which they can return. I see no problem in deporting them all to Antarctica or some very deep spot in the Pacific Ocean.

    The always helpful Dana (5a4fb2)

  61. A Three Strikes with meaning:
    1st Felony: Non-violent – 5 years; Violent – 15 years;
    2nd Felony: NV – 15 years; V – 45 years;
    3rd Felony: NV – Life; V – Death.
    (a Lifer committing a violent felony inside – as if there were any other in that circumstance – Death!)

    AD-RtR/OS! (d20d78)

  62. “… a prison system deep in Alaska’s most desolate wastes…”

    Dustin, I think I’ve told this story before, but here goes again:

    In the 50’s, a USAF detachment at a remote location in Alaska went “on strike”! This amounted to around 40-60 men. They were brought back to Anchorage and tried for Mutiny, and found Guilty, and sentenced to a min of 10-years Hard Labor, in the Elmendorf AFB brig. Each day, except Sunday, they were put on buses and driven to an area in the back of the sprawling base called 6-Mile Lake, where they built – sans power tools of any kind – a recreation area for the base, including cabins, picnic areas, ski slopes, and the roads to get there, in every form of weather that Anchorage can bless you with, rain or shine, Winter or Summer, and everything in between.
    It is (or was when I was there in the early 60’s) a beautiful rec area much appreciated by the Airmen of Elmendorf, and the Soldiers of the adjoining Fort Richardson, and the Civilian and Dependent personnel of those two installations.

    Last I heard, that is the only known Mutiny in the USAF.

    Personally, I’ve always thought that if we were looking for a “Devil’s Island”, the island of Shemya near the end of the Aleutians would serve the purpose well. The only way on or off that rock is via air, and that is not always a dependable mode of transport due to weather.

    AD-RtR/OS! (d20d78)

  63. How about not sentencing people for 25-to-life for stealing VHS tapes?

    Comment by Andrew — 5/23/2011 @ 12:29 pm

    Maybe you should look at the three strikes law before making a statement like that. Patterico did a short summary when Slate got it wrong.

    Check out what constitutes Violent and serious felonies according to California statutes. As a non-attorney I don’t understand why “Exploding a destructive device or any explosive with intent to injure, causing great bodily injury or mayhem or with intent to murder” is considered a “serious” instead of a “violent” felony.

    I believe the famous case where a man was given three strikes for stealing a pizza was because he beat two youths to within an inch of their lives to steal that pizza.

    Aaron,

    I like the idea of deporting illegal aliens and revoking citizenship for violent legal aliens. Though that assumes that the government will do its job. If we do deport, we should charter a plane (not transport them in commercial airlines like we do currently) and land it deep within the heart of the country of origin to make it harder to come back to the USA.

    Tanny O'Haley (12193c)

  64. “…Conservatives want to execute all death-row inmates…”

    Well, we would like to start with Sirhan Sirhan, Richard Ramirez, and my personal favorite, the always lovable Charlie Manson (and Yes, I realize that two of that trio have had their sentances commuted to LWOP – but they still need to be dead)!

    Then, we can talk about the Gang-Bangers who mow down innocent bystanders, or commit their murder as part of some initiation ritual.
    Or the drug dealers who sell adulterated smack that is a death sentance for the buyer.
    And, let’s not forget the ever present sociopathic killers who just enjoy it.

    When you Murder someone (pre-med), you have violated the Social Contract that we all try survive within, and you need to be cast out of the society of civilized men and women, never to be returned.
    In pre-historic times, you could banish someone with the expectation that if he attempted to return, he would be killed no-questions-asked.
    Today, there is no-where to be banished to; and so, we just minus-out your DNA from the Gene-pool.

    AD-RtR/OS! (d20d78)

  65. Comment by Milhouse — 5/23/2011 @ 5:15 pm

    Prog/Libs have a very difficult time with the concept of punishment/reward, and how those activities effect personal behaviour.

    AD-RtR/OS! (d20d78)

  66. I never asked for cake.
    Sure, execute the 700. That is the sentence handed down by a jury.

    #44

    I’m not arguing for cancer or congestive heart failure treatment and never mentioned those types of things amongst all the infectious stuff that “25 years without a checkup” might unleash.

    Criminals may indeed not get out, but unless you want to pay to quarantine them, they will need a check up and preventative work done.. which might be cheaper than quarantine.

    Wisdom is what I expect from judges. Lofty wisdom is sometimes impractical.
    Inmate healthcare has undergone mission creep and some of it is impractical from a financial point of view.
    That said, the guys I know who have done time and got out in their late thirties and beyond are behind the curve… which is as it should be, but we are asking them not to go back to prison, but to reenter society.

    SteveG (cc5dc9)

  67. is the argument that letting aging offenders out of prison early would let taxpayers off the hook for one thin dime of their medical bills.

    yeah, that’s a particularly silly argument. it’s basically just shifting from one state agency to another; game playing at its worst.

    the one place where the argument *does* make sense, though, is in the case of comatose patients who aren’t expected to recover. no point in paying for their guards, if they’ve been placed in regular hospitals for long-term care.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  68. Tanny, I repeat again my citation to Wilson v. Knowles, as reported here.

    Dude pled no contest to gross vehicular manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol, and to proximately causing bodily injury while driving under the influence of alcohol. Both charges stemmed from the same incident of drunk driving; one of his passengers was killed, another was injured.

    Six years later, he was convicted of driving under the influence with a prior felony. The sentencing judge found it to be his third strike and sent him up to 25-to-life.

    This isn’t the average case, for a lot of reasons. But it is a clear example proof that sometimes the operation of the three strikes law results in life sentences for people who aren’t the type of horrible recidivists the supporters of the law said the law was meant to go after.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  69. Wisdom is what I expect from judges

    Ah – but that’s not the role of a judge, except as exercised within certain limited restrictions. The role of the appellate judge, in particular, is to look at the law, and see if the lower court decided within the law, even if the law is unwise. The legislature gets to decide to be wise, or not, at its discretion.

    I’m not arguing for cancer or congestive heart failure treatment and never mentioned those types of things amongst all the infectious stuff that “25 years without a checkup” might unleash.

    That’s fair. I retract that part of my remark. :)

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  70. I find it unfortunate that the Lifer the CA taxpayers provided a heart-transplant (or was it a liver?) didn’t have a fatal event just prior to surgery.
    We would have saved a tremendous amount of money (I think the total cost of his proceedure, including rehab, was over $1MM), and someone else would have received the organ.

    AD-RtR/OS! (d20d78)

  71. My apologies, on two grounds.

    One, the link didn’t work.

    Two, it’s the wrong link anyhow; the 9th circuit recalled the opinion and replaced it with this one (http://caselaw.findlaw.com/summary/opinion/us-9th-circuit/2011/04/01/254671.html), which is longer and more detailed but makes the same conclusions.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  72. “…but that’s not the role of a judge…”

    Yes, can’t have any of that Sophomoric drivel glamourising the Modern Solomons’ of the World.

    AD-RtR/OS! (d20d78)

  73. BTW, I heard John & Ken interview George Runner on this decision, and he, Runner, was irate in that the Court, in his words, pretty much determined that adequate housing for prisoners was one-man cells, and that two-man cells constituted “over crowding”.
    Any thoughts by our “legal scholars” on that interpretation?

    AD-RtR/OS! (d20d78)

  74. I’ll never understand the attempts to gain sympathy for three strikes offenders. You’re caught committing a serious crime. You don’t reform, and are caught again, and you don’t reform.

    If you’re in that position, you need to thank God you’ve been given a third chance, and walk an extremely mild existence devoted to repaying society 100% of the time you can. It’s a huge gift that they got this third chance. Instead, they take something that belonged to someone else, and refuse to get along with the world.

    My only gripe is that their conditions in prison exceed the conditions of some deployed soldiers. The cruel and unusual scam is interesting because you can constantly use unusually mild treatment, and as that becomes the norm, you can’t go back to what was normal treatment.

    We should take a page from Russia and establish a prison system deep in Alaska’s most desolate wastes. They can spend their time struggling to produce food and clean water, reading only books that are directly educational, and not released until they can pass tests showing they have learned a trade from such books.

    It should be hard enough that the weaker felons consider suicide when convicted. I know some will say that means it’s cruel, but no, these are people who think an honest living is too hard, so they don’t get to decide what’s cruel, either.

    Long term, we should abolish the Eighth Amendment. Courts can not be trusted to stick with the standards of 1791.

    In the short run, we should bring back the concept of outlawry.

    Well, we would like to start with Sirhan Sirhan, Richard Ramirez, and my personal favorite, the always lovable Charlie Manson (and Yes, I realize that two of that trio have had their sentances commuted to LWOP – but they still need to be dead)!

    Whose ides was it to commute their sentences?

    Michael Ejercito (64388b)

  75. Tina Trent @ 56,

    You comment here far too infrequently.

    Dana (4eca6e)

  76. The illegals just come here to commit the crimes that citizens won’t commit …. and to overcrowd our prisons too.

    torabora (c4bf93)

  77. Wisdom within the law

    SteveG (cc5dc9)

  78. Comment by Michael Ejercito — 5/23/2011 @ 7:39 pm

    Those sentances were commuted by The Robed Wonders when they outlawed Capital Punishment with Furman v Georgia in 1972.

    AD-RtR/OS! (d20d78)

  79. Tanny, I repeat again my citation to Wilson v. Knowles, as reported here.

    Dude pled no contest to gross vehicular manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol, and to proximately causing bodily injury while driving under the influence of alcohol. Both charges stemmed from the same incident of drunk driving; one of his passengers was killed, another was injured.

    Six years later, he was convicted of driving under the influence with a prior felony. The sentencing judge found it to be his third strike and sent him up to 25-to-life.

    This isn’t the average case, for a lot of reasons. But it is a clear example proof that sometimes the operation of the three strikes law results in life sentences for people who aren’t the type of horrible recidivists the supporters of the law said the law was meant to go after.

    Comment by aphrael — 5/23/2011 @ 6:54 pm

    Under three strikes the judge did not have to count all of his previous counts. There has to be a reason the judge didn’t drop a count.

    Tanny O'Haley (12193c)

  80. Whose ides was it to commute their sentences?

    Comment by Michael Ejercito

    In 1972, the California Supreme Court commuted every death penalty to life by temporarily eliminating the death penalty.

    Criminals may indeed not get out, but unless you want to pay to quarantine them, they will need a check up and preventative work done.. which might be cheaper than quarantine.

    SteveG, I think you’re probably right, but my point was that we don’t owe it to them. If we do it for the good of the people who will interact with a released prisoner, that’s different, and probably practical. When I joined the army, I got a very large syringe of antibiotics on my first day in processing. We could give prisoners such a think on their way out. And remember, my way out is not merely time served. They spend their entire lives in prison, even if given a short sentence, if they fail to pass tests demonstrating they have learned a trade. Toss in some hygiene classes too… I’m all about teaching a man to fish.

    I think first offenses should generally carry a short sentence unless the crime is quite serious. One year of very hard labor, filthy conditions, zero hot meals, and spare time learning how to do construction or engine repair or wastewater treatment… and all of a sudden some of these people will not want to commit crimes anymore.

    I don’t think this is so extreme. We readily allow convicts to lose rights such as voting, owning guns, working without compensation or choice.

    Anyway, I think you’re right that we can’t release disease onto the outside world, and you’re probably right that some degree of routine medical treatment is cheaper than just letting it fester, but that’s not out of an obligation society has to prisoners, in my opinion (though the law and I disagree on this point).

    Dustin (c16eca)

  81. If someone is convicted of drunk driving three times, they do belong in prison for life.

    That’s a very serious crime that kills plenty of innocent people.

    I can see some idea of leeway for people who just drank a little bit and accidentally were over the limit, but not someone who killed someone by driving drunk. Someone like that never should have driven a car again with any alcohol in their system. I’m sure this person was driving drunk all the time, and we were lucky to catch him before he killed another person. I’m glad such a person is locked up.

    Sure, I can see a little leeway for someone with no record who blew low blood alcohol level. I personally think bars should make it extremely easy to check your alcohol level before you walk out the door to your car, too.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  82. They need a “key check girl” (or equivelent):
    Check your keys when you enter, get your keys back when you leave – after blowing less than a 0.08, or whatever!

    AD-RtR/OS! (d20d78)

  83. There has to be a reason the judge didn’t drop a count.

    You can take that on faith. But the judge didn’t explain what the reason was, and he read an interpretation into the nolo contendere plea which went beyond the elements of the underlying crime (which is why the ninth circuit reversed him). But I think it’s a lot to take on faith when the judge hasn’t explained the reason for declining to drop a count and for stretching the law to characterize it as a strike.

    I also find it odd that you would trust the sentencing judge’s use of discretion here and find its usage self-justifying. Isn’t the whole point to three strikes to constrain judicial discretion because it’s untrustworthy and subject to abuse?

    aphrael (9802d6)

  84. drunk driving three time

    twice. it’s just that the first time two people were hurt.

    Someone like that never should have driven a car again with any alcohol in their system

    my preferred sentence for the second offense would have been a steep fine combined with a long-term license revocation. we can start talking about serious prison time if/when he ignores the license revocation.

    aphrael (9802d6)

  85. No. 21 has described our healthcare future under Obamacare. The upside is that if they hustle Obamacare implementation, current prison conditions won’t be so cruel and unusual.

    KJohn (a7c723)

  86. They are punishing the people of California for not raising taxes.

    And the death penalty is absolutely on the table.

    Amphipolis (b120ce)

  87. SteveG (unintentionally?) wrote the line of the day:

    Wisdom is what I expect from judges.

    ROTFLMAO.

    This was a joke, right?

    The amused Dana (3e4784)

  88. The judicial process, particularly in the states controlled by progressives, have been politicized. That cancer has spread to other layers of bureaucracy where selective enforcement has lifted the blindfold off lady liberty. Selective enforcement has permeated the governments as politicians solidify their power base to further their agenda.

    The appeal’s process has been perverted into a perpetual stalling technique to ensure that very few death row inmates ever reach the ultimate sentence. Prison overcrowding is a contrived strategy, intentional or otherwise, designed for jail house lawyers to protest everything about confinement. The ultimate goal of these “lawyers” and their liberal consultants is to override their convictions/sentences by a liberal court to be set free on the citizenry that committed them.

    As long as we have a philosophy that it is better that a hundred guilty go free rather than one innocent go to prison we, as a society, will suffer the consequences. The consequences being that innocents will be maimed and killed on the altar of the false God of idealism that has very little basis in reality.

    Speaking of Shemya in the Aleutians, I spent time on Adak. When the sun came out we tore down quonset huts from WWII. We always had an eye open on the nearby volcano for the odd Williwa that would blow in with hurricane force winds at a moments notice. That was our recreation. The point being that the military has duty assignments that the average liberal lawyer would file a lawsuit to protest conditions if a three strikes loser was forced to suffer the same situation.

    I will save the indignities we suffered at the hands of the liberals who “welcomed” us upon our return from WestPac. Folks like aphrael are noted for their ability to reduce topics into discreet examples as they argue their case. They rarely step back and look at the result of their labors because reality is the cloud that rains on their idealism.

    vet66 (eb4cdb)

  89. So, why not just bring back public whippings for certain offenses? It would cost a lot less than prison.

    And before you cluck your tongue and proclaim, “How barbaric!” consider how many people justify abortion on the basis that they don’t want to bear the cost of educating “unwanted” children.

    Gregory of Yardale (db9fb3)

  90. Gregory, I assume you’ve read In Defense of Flogging?

    aphrael (9802d6)

  91. Vet66 – I think I’ve already said that my preferred solution to California’s problem is to build enough prisons to hold our prisoners in reasonable conditions. The last time we voted on such a bond measure, I voted for it.

    aphrael (9802d6)

  92. Aphrael: You voted for it, but did it pass?

    What’s wrong with stringing concertina wire around several acres in the Mohave Desert, setting up tents, and driving stakes into the ground, to which the prisoners would be chained? Give ’em not quite enough reach to touch anyone else, and guards coming through occasionally to give them a fresh canteen of water.

    The Dana who doesn't live in the Pyrite State (3e4784)

  93. Scalia’s dissent, eviscerates the truly odious and
    incompetent they went about with this decision, this
    is why when it came to Heller; I was afraid they
    would agree to the ‘right to arm bears’

    ian cormac (72470d)

  94. Dana: no, it didn’t. I was repeating it mostly in response to vet66’s characterization of me in comment #88. :)

    Fundamentally the problem with prisons in California is the same as the problem with our budget as a whole: Californians en masse want government to provide lots of great things, but are unwilling to pay for them all, and are also unwilling to prioritize them.

    The role of this decision in California politics is to say to the voters: you have to prioritize treating your prisoners with a certain minimum level of decency. You can do that by building enough prisons to do that, or you can do it by releasing enough prisoners that you’ll be able to do it, or you can do it by outsourcing your prison holding to others. But you gotta pick one of those.

    In practice, California won’t pick, and will take the default option, and then blame it on judges. But like so many things that have gone wrong in California, the real fault is that of the voters, who in the aggregate seem to believe that it’s possible to simply deny economic/financial reality.

    aphrael (9802d6)

  95. Mr. aphrael yes you have to treat you prisoners with a certain minimum level of decency but there’s no minimum level for how well you treat your illiterate union whore prison guards.

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  96. *your* prisoners I mean

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  97. “illiterate union whore prison guards”?

    This would be the members of one of the most powerful unions in the state (they’re probably third, behind the longshoremen and the teachers), who – because of serious understaffing and the resultant overtime – are among the best paid employees of the state?

    I generally have no problem with the prison guards union. I don’t think they’re the best authority on what should or shouldn’t be legal, and it irritates me when their word on that question is taken as more important than it deserves; but generally, these are people who are choosing to do a very dangerous job, and they’re worthy of my respect for so doing, and they have every right to use a union to try to improve their working conditions.

    aphrael (9802d6)

  98. prison guards are just depraved whores what are too cowardly to rape people in real life so they rape taxpayers instead

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  99. Pikachu, prison guards are necessary, so are cops,
    I’m beginning to think those 5 justices on the Supreme Court, are not, as for the 4th circuit:

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columnists/2011/05/obamacare-bombshell-final-ruling-may-wait-until-after-2012-election

    ian cormac (72470d)

  100. “Fundamentally the problem with prisons in California is the same as the problem with our budget as a whole: Californians en masse want government to provide lots of great things, but are unwilling to pay for them all, and are also unwilling to prioritize them.”

    aphrael – I’m confused. Are you saying the problem in California prison overcrowding is due to the voters rather than legislators not authorizing more prison construction? Did voters directly turn down the opportunity to build more? Could legislators have not just decided to fund more construction? What’s the story? It sounds like a lot of finger pointing to me.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  101. so let’s hire some prison guards and let the overpaid union whore princesses we got in there now go get real jobs

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  102. You could pay some illegal immigrants cash under the table and get the job done cheap I bet.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  103. that’s just the sort of lemons lemonade thinking that just might turn this tugboat around for the American way Mr. daley! Good work!

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  104. Daleyrocks – yes, we voted on a bond measure to fund prison construction a few years ago, and the voters voted it down.

    Furthermore, while more than half of the state budget is tied up in mandated spending written into the state constitution by the voters; none of that mandated spending includes prisons.

    Because of our initiative system, the line between “Legislature” and “voters” in this state is extraordinarily thin.

    aphrael (9802d6)

  105. my understanding is that 98% of the state budget is for prison guard pedicures and the rest goes to stem cell research

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  106. Comment by aphrael — 5/24/2011 @ 8:22 am

    It is not the job of “Californians” to prioritize, that is the job of their elected representatives, who have failed mightily at it, due to their incessant pandering to the factions of the electorate that puts/keeps them in office (looked into the mirror lately?).

    AD-RtR/OS! (b8ab92)

  107. AD – in a normal state that might be true. But, as I said before, in this state, the voters themselves have partially taken control of the process. When the voters are running around mandating spending on afterschool programs and mandating borrowing to fund stem cell research, the voters don’t get to point at the legislature and blame everything on them. We’re just as much at fault.

    That said, I generally believe that persistent failure by the legislature to do the right thing is in fact a result of persistent failure of the voters; if we really wanted different behavior out of our legislators, we’d elect a different crop of legislators, or we’d change the system to remove or reduce the institutional pressures which result in the bad legislators we have. In California we haven’t done this (although redistricting reform and the top-two primary were steps in this direction; neither have had any effect yet so it’s too early to tell how they will pan out).

    aphrael (9802d6)

  108. ________________________________________

    Ultimately, the way we treat convicts is as much about us – our standards and values – as it is about them. I want criminals treated well partly because I’m not a criminal and don’t want to be anything like them.

    But are you screening your POV through a prism of naivete and do-gooderness? Through a twisted sense of compassion and guilt? If you are, and your take on things ends up hurting innocent people, then I don’t mind (or I’d prefer) your instead saying you’re motivated by heartlessness and callousness.

    If people on the right say their disdain of an ACLU-ized approach to felons is motivated by a similar emotion, then that’s fine. After all, being heartless and callous towards people who’ve hurt (if not murdered) innocent individuals is one thing. But being heartless and callous towards the victims (or future victims) of such people is a totally different matter. IOW, that truly — TRULY! — is a sign of heartlessness, if not ruthlessness.

    And that is more likely to occur when judicial decisions have been screened through the mindset of liberal judges, or squishes like Anthony Kennedy. If the following is correct, then the preceding observation is even more applicable:

    George Runner…was irate in that the Court, in his words, pretty much determined that adequate housing for prisoners was one-man cells, and that two-man cells constituted “over crowding”.
    Comment by AD-RtR/OS! — 5/23/2011 @ 7:03 pm

    New York Times, May 23, 2011: The court’s more liberal members — Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — joined Justice Kennedy’s opinion.

    Mark (3e3a7c)

  109. the manderings in California are very gerry Mr. aphrael

    what’s a little pikachu voter to do?

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  110. Simple solution to the over crowding.

    1. Build four tent city prisons in the central valley for the non-violent, minimum security prisoners. Keep the population of each down to 5,000 to 7,500 inmates.

    2. Build two tent city prisons dead center in Death Valley for the violent prisoners. Make these as large as you need to to keep the truly violent prisoners. Keep them chained with the old fashioned ball and chain to slow them down and to make it more difficult in case of an escape. Other wise, put them all together with no attempts to segregate different gangs, races, etc. Do not intervene when the prisoners fight amongst themselves unless a guard or the infrastructure is at risk. Constant video surveillance to record every criminal act. Video evidence of initiating the event that leads to the killing or maiming another prisoner results in an expedited trial and immediate death penalty.

    3. Rent out chain gang labor from teh four non-violent prisoner camps to the farmers. Charge the farmers $10 per hour for the laborers. Indemnify the farmers against claims for medical expenses or hiring illegal aliens.

    4. Pay the laborers 50% more for working the chain gangs than they would be paid for working an inside the prison job. Make the chain gangs voluntary. Make continuing on the chain gangs contingent upon a clean discipline record.

    5. Adopt all the cost saving provisions as Joe Arpio has implemented in AZ.

    The tent cities would provide adequate space to accommodate the excess prisoners. The money paid by the farmers would cover the complete cost of incarceration of the prisoner. The farmer would save money over what he is currently paying. The prisoners on the chain gangs would be able to work outside the prison, gain usable job skills and enjoy the change of scenery.

    And the prisoners sent to the Death Valley camps would finally have a prison that was so uncomfortable that they would be unlikely to ever do anything that might result in their being sent back. And the truly violent ones will eliminate themselves.

    As for the argument for flogging, I doubt that many people would willingly risk a second dose of it. Caning is another similar alternative.

    Jay H Curtis (8f6541)

  111. Ultimately, the way we treat convicts is as much about us – our standards and values – as it is about them. I want criminals treated well partly because I’m not a criminal and don’t want to be anything like them.

    What makes a criminal bad? I think it’s how they intrude on the rights of others to be safe, keep their stuff, etc.

    So I don’t really see how I’m like a criminal, because a prison with tough conditions cannot be entered without a criminal choosing that path for himself.

    I think by value, you mean the people having obligations to give a good life to criminals. I actually also want criminals to have a good life, but I realize that this isn’t going to be possible for all of them. At some point, we run out of the ability to shower goodness on everyone.

    So my plan is simple: make prison a place people will never want to return to, and give short enough first offender sentences that people have a chance to return to society with that in their minds. As a necessary consequence, repeat offenders pay the price of being proof that society really means it.

    Aphrael focused on the lives of a couple of three strikes offenders, but it’s not really about them. It’s about showing the rest of the criminals that we really mean it when we promise to lock them up and throw away the key if they refuse to walk on eggshells, making sure they don’t interfere with the rights of others.

    For example, repeat drunk drivers, who thanks to a result Aphrael disagrees with, know they had better stop drinking and driving.

    What’s more sympathetic? I think it’s cruel to make prison a place that has any concession towards the prisoners. Feed them (poorly), provide minimal health care (and mental health care), and only educational books for recreation. There are prisons far harsher than this all over the planet that avoid riots because people who disobey the rules get shot.

    When we send someone to prison, it should be because we are outraged with someone’s choices. Let them know.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  112. “Because of our initiative system, the line between “Legislature” and “voters” in this state is extraordinarily thin.”

    Comment by aphrael — 5/24/2011 @ 10:01 am

    This came about largely because our legislature only had one tune. Raise taxes. It still has only one tune. The same one.

    If we could trust our legislature to do what was good for the state instead of what is good for the legislator, then maybe this would not have come about.

    As for the bond measure, I and many other people I know, all saw this as a way to pass the buck to the voters to make the decision to raise taxes, rather than the legislature doing their job and cutting someplace to spend it somewhere else. Simple political cowardice.

    Put the blame on our legislature that is perfectly happy to vote down legislation that might reflect badly on them with their constituents, but more than willing to put similar issues before the voters as ballot initiatives.

    Jay H Curtis (8f6541)

  113. Jay Curtis, I think your solution sounds practical.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  114. Colorado has a program that 3 and 4 are modeled on. The prisoners must have a perfect discipline record, must be minimum security, must volunteer for the chain gangs. The Farmers get to pay a reasonable wage, no longer have to pay workers comp insurance, don’t have to worry about ICE raids, etc. The agriculture job magnet is much reduced for the illegal immigrants. And most importantly, the entire cost of incarcerating the prisoner is paid.

    Many of the prisoners get permanent jobs in agriculture after release for prison. In case you are under the misunderstanding that all farm jobs are menial labor, this is simply not true. You can learn animal husbandry, ecology, mechanical skills, office skills and most importantly of all, self respect and responsibility as a farm worker.

    Jay H Curtis (8f6541)

  115. You can learn animal husbandry, ecology, mechanical skills, office skills and most importantly of all, self respect and responsibility as a farm worker.

    That sounds a lot more sympathetic to prisoners than housing them in a nice prison with A/C and little for them to do once released.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  116. Jay – the vast majority of initiatives have nothing to do with taxation.

    the blame on our legislature that is perfectly happy to vote down legislation that might reflect badly on them with their constituents

    I’d say the blame lies with the constituents who would use those decisions as a reason to vote the legislators out of office. The system is designed so that the legislators do what they think will get them re-elected; if they’re right about what will get them re-elected, and we don’t like the results, the fault doesn’t lie with them. It lies with the people who re-elect them, and who would not re-elect them if they behaved differently.

    Daleyrocks called this a blame game; it’s not. The legislators are doing what their constituents want them to. Their constituents want nice government services for free, and the legislators are trying everything they can to make that happen.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  117. For example, repeat drunk drivers, who thanks to a result Aphrael disagrees with, know they had better stop drinking and driving.

    How many drunk drivers do you think know about this case? I would be willing to bet that you could count the number on two hands.

    Deterrence doesn’t work if nobody knows about the alleged deterrent. That was sort of the whole point to Dr. Strangelove‘s doomsday machine.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  118. It seems like a good compromise. Give the ones that may still be salvageable a chance. For the hard core criminals, give them hell on earth and a quick exit from it if they can’t learn to toe the line.

    Prison should be a deterrent for criminals, not a right of passage. If the threat of prison doesn’t scare the hell out of them, then we are doing something wrong. The reason we have more prisoners than other countries is probably closely related to the unpleasantness of the experience in those countries vs. here.

    Jay H Curtis (8f6541)

  119. jay i don’t agree with all the particulars of your plan, but it beats the sh-t out of what will likely happen.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  120. Dustin, @115: there are actually instances of prisoners being taught trades which they cannot perform after they are released because there are licensing restrictions which exclude convicted felons.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  121. aphrael @ 120

    Seems like the prison is being mismanaged if they are providing job training that is not usable upon release. I suggest an audit of the way tax payer $$ are being wasted. 😎

    Aaron @ 119

    Even I don’t think we should really do the things listed in #2 of post 110. I do think we coddle the hard core criminals way too much. I do believe that the treatment of our criminals should be no better than the treatment of our military. So tent cities in the desert, far from any transportation to make escape less probable is a good start. Making hard core prisoners perform hard physical labor for 10 hours per day is not out of line. Getting rid of luxuries such as cable TV, air conditioning, lights after 8 P.M., etc. sounds like a good idea.

    Having judges throw out 9/10ths of prisoners lawsuits against their victims, malpractice suits against prison doctors, demands for government paid for sex change operations, etc. seems like common sense to me.

    As for segregating gang members, if this were to stop, then pretty soon, the gang members on the street would realize that going to prison could be a game ender for them. Maybe, then, prison might act as a deterrent as it should do now.

    Jay H Curtis (8f6541)

  122. lights after 8 P.M.

    My suspicion is that the existence of lights at night isn’t intended as a luxury for the prisoners, but as a convenience for the (understaffed) guards.

    Seems like the prison is being mismanaged if they are providing job training that is not usable upon release

    You’ll get no disagreement from me there.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  123. “Jay – the vast majority of initiatives have nothing to do with taxation.”
    Comment by aphrael — 5/24/2011 @ 11:24 am

    A good example of what I am talking about can be seen in the dueling initiatives on our last election cycle. One initiative was submitted by a citizens group which was to punish legislators if they did not pass a balanced budget on time. The other initiative was written by the legislature a purported to to the same thing but it also dropped the requirement to pass a budget to 50% +1 instead of the 2/3 majority required before.

    The one written by the legislature passed. It was advertised as stopping the legislators pay and allowances if they didn’t pass a balanced budget. The fine print, however, only required them to pass a budget. It didn’t require the budget to be balanced. Hence the reason we still have no workable budget and are unlikely to anytime soon.

    The Governor is now trying to get a special election so that a single initiative that will ask the people to raise their own taxes since it still takes 2/3 majority in the legislature to do so. Will the people vote to raise taxes? Probably as more than 50% of the people in CA do not pay those taxes.

    Again, it is all about the legislature not doing their job, then putting a dishonest initiative on the ballot to try and convince the gullible to to their will while deflecting the blame onto the voters.

    Jay H Curtis (8f6541)

  124. let me add that i am so glad to be living on the opposite coast from Cali when this blows up on them. yeah, people can travel, but i doubt if alot of them are coming to virginia…

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  125. aphrael @ 122

    I mean reading lights in the cells, TV, radios, etc. When it gets dark outside, turn off the lights inside. Leave the common areas lit, of course, and make sure the guards are kept safe, but electricity in the cells after dark is an unnecessary expense. Eliminate it.

    This is not supposed to be a country club or hotel.

    Jay H Curtis (8f6541)

  126. We’ve seen similar decisions down here in Florida, the scope was smaller, but it was equally noxious.
    to public safety, of course Scalia eviscerated Kennedy’s pathetic reasonings

    ian cormac (72470d)

  127. We should just let them go and give them mandatory alcohol so their liver can fail.

    DohBiden (15aa57)

  128. Aaron @ 124

    I was about to suggest we transport the 37,000 release prisoners to the elite neighborhoods where the Justices, Senators, etc. live in Virgina and Maryland. Then they can enjoy the benefits of their decisions. Actions have consequences, after all. 😎

    Jay H Curtis (8f6541)

  129. Jay, see my first comment on this thread, #29. Though there’s a typo, I wrote 27 instead of 37.

    Milhouse (9ef3cc)

  130. Aaron @ 124

    I was about to suggest we transport the 37,000 release prisoners to the elite neighborhoods where the Justices, Senators, etc. live in Virgina and Maryland. Then they can enjoy the benefits of their decisions. Actions have consequences, after all. 😎

    Comment by Jay H Curtis — 5/24/2011 @ 12:10 pm

    I like the idea except that innocent neighbors will be punished too. So far I like most of the ideas you’ve put forth. Aphrael’s solution is to blame the voters for a legislature that won’t do its job, which is most likely true because the voters keep putting these legislators into office. I’m from California and I can say that I didn’t, but I’m a minority (not a democrat) in California.

    Aphrael,

    Why should I vote for any bond issue, it just increases our debt? We have one of the highest state income tax rates, sales tax and even with prop 13, one of the highest property tax rates in the nation. Why should I vote to increase our debt? I agree the initiative process has been abused, but I believe it is needed as a balance to the professional politicians.

    Why should property tax be raised two percent each year if inflation is less than two percent? But every year in Los Angeles county my property tax goes up two percent. A bond means that we are borrowing money, why should I vote for increased debt, no matter how good the cause?

    I think we should implement many of the things that Joe Arpaio in Arizona has implemented. Which reminds me, why is the prison guard union blocking transfers of prisoners to AZ? Why has the judge put such high requirements on transfers of prisoners to other states? If true, why do they consider two prisoners in a cell overcrowding? What’s wrong with a large room of cots, it’s good enough for the military?

    Tanny O'Haley (12193c)

  131. Milhouse,

    I read this earlier and agree with the idea. I like the idea of shipping them 3000 miles from here. Maybe they wouldn’t come back to CA.

    Jay H Curtis (8f6541)

  132. Why should property tax be raised two percent each year if inflation is less than two percent?

    For one thing, increased population density will mean higher fixed costs even without inflation.

    For another thing, this chart shows that, while there have been some years with 3% inflation, and if tax rates don’t go up as much as inflation in one year, they either need to go up more than inflation in another, the tax basis of the property needs to be adjusted, or government needs to do less. Since the second option is largely illegal in California, it’s not actually an option.

    As for bonds: I vote against most bond measures for the reasons you’ve listed (including the bond measure for high speed rail, a project I’d really like to see succeed). But sometimes they’re legitimate because they’re borrowing for long-term infrastructure whose costs should be amortized over time. And sometimes they’re legitimate because they’re building facilities which will last for decades (and whose cost should therefore be amortized). And for some of them … well, if the voters aren’t going to finance via ballot measure, or choose to elect legislators who will finance via budget, certain things, the options are to borrow money or do without. In this case, if the legislature won’t spend the money needed to ensure that prisoners are treated in a way which complies with a fifteen-year old court order, and the voters won’t spend the money on their own, then ISTM a court is perfectly justified in concluding that California is ignoring a court order, and taking steps to remedy the situation.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  133. Aphrael’s solution is to blame the voters for a legislature that won’t do its job, which is most likely true because the voters keep putting these legislators into office

    Blaming the voters isn’t a solution; it’s part of the analysis. I can’t draft a solution if I don’t understand what is happening and why, and neither can anyone else – if you don’t understand how we got to point A, you can’t possibly predict the unintended consequences of solution Z.

    My solution would probably look something like this: repeal all initiatives which either limit the legislature’s power to determine taxes and spending or which allocate money to a particular cause. Set a 60% or so threshold for a budget. Implement redistricting reform which prohibits the legislature from drawing incumbent-protection districting plans (this has been done). Implement IRV or a blanket primary to break the hold that partisan activists have over the primary process (it is not helpful that the democratic-leaning districts have legislators who are essentially chosen by the left-wing activists, and it is not helpful that the republican-leaning districts have legislators who are essentially chosen by the right-wing activists; in both cases, the center is locked out of the selection process, and the result is a legislature filled with extremists). Restructure term limits so that people can spend their entire time as legislators in one house rather than switching between the two. Consolidate the various levels of overlapping local government so that it’s more clear who has legislative responsibility for an area and so that there are fewer government agencies who need to approve things. Divest spending authority to regional bodies who understand the needs of their regions rather than centralizing them in the state. Increase the size of the legislature so that individual legislators are more responsive. (It’s crazy that we have more Congresspeople than state Senators). Implement a higher signature threshold for initiative statutes and initiative constitutional amendments (while retaining the same threshold for referenda).

    That won’t fix all of the problems in California governance. But it would be a start.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  134. I like the idea except that innocent neighbors will be punished too.

    Punished? How so? If releasing criminals in your neighbourhood is a punishment, then someone has to be “punished” in this manner, so why not them? Why are they better than whoever lives where these people would otherwise end up? At least they’re in a position to do something about it, by complaining to their neighbours who brought the plague down on them.

    Milhouse (9ef3cc)

  135. aphrael,

    Sorry, solution should be tactic. Where is the media to report all these things? Shouldn’t they tell us that the legislature is not doing its job? How are the voters to know that they need to vote a new person into office because the current politician isn’t doing there job?

    Oh, I forgot, it’s the media which is mostly left wing. How about we blame the politicians, media and voters for not doing their job, but mostly the politicians and media?

    Tanny O'Haley (12193c)

  136. I don’t watch television, so I don’t know what the television media are doing. But … I don’t know how you could read a local newspaper anywhere in California and not be aware that our legislature is unable to pass a budget.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  137. “That won’t fix all of the problems in California governance. But it would be a start.”
    Comment by aphrael — 5/24/2011 @ 1:23 pm

    Okay, lets take these in order.

    “repeal all initiatives which either limit the legislature’s power to determine taxes and spending or which allocate money to a particular cause.”

    Sorry can’t agree to this until such time as other limits have been set into place. The Legislature has too long of a history of abuse to allow this kind of power until they have proven their worthiness of that level of trust.

    “Set a 60% or so threshold for a budget.”

    I assume you mean to pass a budget. It was at 66% until last election cycle where the Democrats in the Legislature put forth the INITIATIVE that changed it to 50%. So they passed a budget in March. But is wasn’t a balanced budget. That’s not important, though, right?

    “Implement redistricting reform which prohibits the legislature from drawing incumbent-protection districting plans (this has been done).”

    Still waiting to see what comes out of this one. /Fingers crossed.

    “Implement IRV or a blanket primary to break the hold that partisan activists have over the primary process (it is not helpful that the democratic-leaning districts have legislators who are essentially chosen by the left-wing activists, and it is not helpful that the republican-leaning districts have legislators who are essentially chosen by the right-wing activists; in both cases, the center is locked out of the selection process, and the result is a legislature filled with extremists).”

    Unlikely as then both parties would be likely to lose a certain amount of power. Besides, many people blindly vote for anyone with a “D” or an “R” after their name.

    “Restructure term limits so that people can spend their entire time as legislators in one house rather than switching between the two. “

    I would rather see term limits require 4 years after being termed out before being eligible to run for another office or work for the state government in any fashion. Get rid of the career politicians. Add to this the removal of the ability to get retirement benefits for working in an elected office. Service should be it’s own reward.

    “Consolidate the various levels of overlapping local government so that it’s more clear who has legislative responsibility for an area and so that there are fewer government agencies who need to approve things. “

    I agree with this. Needing City building permits, county building permits and state building permits in order to build a factory is redundant, restrictive and stupid.

    “Divest spending authority to regional bodies who understand the needs of their regions rather than centralizing them in the state.”

    What in particular are you thinking about with this one? I can see lots of little fiefdoms springing up this way. Redevelopment agencies, anyone?

    “Increase the size of the legislature so that individual legislators are more responsive. (It’s crazy that we have more Congresspeople than state Senators).”

    Okay, I will give you this one, but we also need to make the legislature part time. Mo more than three months per year with one month strictly dedicated to the budget process.

    “Implement a higher signature threshold for initiative statutes and initiative constitutional amendments (while retaining the same threshold for referenda).”

    I will disagree with this one. There is a bill that has already been approved on a party line basis that will disallow paid signature gathering for initiatives. This makes it very hard to gather the required number of signatures if you are a private group. Not so much if it is a union sponsored initiative, though, as the combined union memberships provide a ready base for signature gathering. Most private groups do not have such large memberships to appeal to.

    Jay H Curtis (8f6541)

  138. aphrael @ 136

    But the legislature DID pass a budget. It was a shame, nowhere near balanced, but they did pass one with the voting right along party lines. It was enough, however, to keep the politicians from losing their pay and allowances after the balanced budget deadline passes.

    Jay H Curtis (8f6541)

  139. Typical of the left. Aphrael gives it up when he chooses the usual lefty blather that the legislature is the victim in the budget process which renders them unable, despite their glorious and heroic efforts, to pass a budget. The word Aphrael is covering up like a cat in a sandbox is UNWILLING to pass a budget. Who needs a budget when you are spending other people’s money and demogoging the very people who recognize the need for a budget.

    The answer to the second part of your question regarding the media as an information source is that the media is in the sack with the career politicians. I don’t believe for one second you don’t watch TV. The last time Schwarzenneger tried to pass a budget the democrats in Sacramento told him no way. He saw the futility in pursuing a budget and let the circus continue as he pursued “other” interests.

    The latest proof is the magical waivers that were bestowed on Pelosi’s district where restaurants serving wagyu beef and other high end offerings were made exempt for a year from Obamacare. This from Pelosi who told us we would have to vote for Obamacare to find out what was in it.

    You are rapidly losing your credibility here by sounding more like an obtuse troll than a participant in an important discussion.

    vet66 (eb4cdb)

  140. Comment by Tanny O’Haley — 5/24/2011 @ 1:49 pm

    Most L.A. media have no permanent bureau/cadre assigned to Sacramento –
    since they are Leftists, they feel no need to report on the Leftist activities of their Leftist pals.

    Or, as Rush would say:
    Leftists have to lie about what they intend to do because if they told the truth, no one would vote for them!

    AD-RtR/OS! (b8ab92)

  141. “…we also need to make the legislature part time…”

    Didn’t Glenn post something this morning that around 60% of those polled thought that the country would not be any of the worse if the Congress only met once every two years!

    If Texas can thrive meeting only 140(?) days every two years, what’s CA’s excuse?

    AD-RtR/OS! (b8ab92)

  142. “…It was a shame…”

    Jay, don’t you mean “SHAM”?

    AD-RtR/OS! (b8ab92)

  143. Vet66: the legislature is unable to pass a balanced budget because the legislators elected from districts gerrymandered to ensure a safe seat for republicans are terrified that if they vote to increase taxes, they’ll lose the next primary AND because the legislators elected from districts gerrymandered to ensure a safe seat for democrats are terrified that if they vote to cut government programs, they’ll lose the next primary. Nobody – or, at least, almost nobody – is willing to risk losing by failing to appease the extremists in their party.

    Note that i’m not blaming conservatives only here; both party’s legislators are responding to the incentives which the current system asks them to respond to: do what will get you through the primary because your district was drawn to ensure that the general election would simply be won by whichever party dominates that district.

    But: why is it the case that the districts are uncompetitive? I mean, on the one hand, it’s because the legislators deliberately drew them that way. But … if the voters of San Mateo County were willing to put a balanced budget as a higher priority than protecting government programs and gay rights, then we’d have a republican representative notwithstanding the party registration balance of the district. The fact that we don’t boils down to: the voters in our district don’t want such a representative. Similarly, if the voters of Redding were willing to put a balanced budget as a higher priority than cutting taxes, they’d have a different representative … but they don’t want that.

    I’m not saying the legislature is heroic and courageous. Legislators are no better and no worse than any other category of people. I’m saying that the members of the legislature, like any reasonably rational economic actor, respond to incentives – and the incentives in front of them are: (1) if you want to keep your job, you have to get re-elected; (2) the way you get re-elected is by appeasing the activists of the dominant party in your district and then refusing to compromise with the other party.

    Term limits have ensured that the legislature of today is almost entirely different people than the legislature of 1994. But the outcome is basically the same. Why? Because the legislators are reacting rationally to the incentives the system has placed in front of them.

    I don’t believe for one second you don’t watch TV

    Honestly true. The last “TV” I watched was the Republican presidential debate (at a friend’s house). Before that, Obama’s speech on bin Laden – which I watched on the internet because I don’t own a TV. Before that … the Oscars, at my mother in law’s friends house? Before that … hmm, this requires a stretch. Sometime last year.

    I don’t have time for tv, and haven’t for at least four years, and back when I did, I found it mindless and banal, particularly TV news. I’d much rather pick up my news from newspapers and newsmagazines and news websites.

    The latest proof is the magical waivers that were bestowed on Pelosi’s district where restaurants serving wagyu beef and other high end offerings were made exempt for a year from Obamacare. This from Pelosi who told us we would have to vote for Obamacare to find out what was in it.

    I’m not following this terribly closely; in the last three weeks I’ve had two finals, a forty-five page paper on sentencing policy, a graduation, and a work crisis with a project about to collapse in fire and flame. So I’m unqualified to comment on the waivers; I suspect that it has something to do with San Francisco’s local health care program, but since I’m not a resident of that city, I have never bothered learning enough about it to be able to analyze the intersection between it and Obamacare.

    I’m on record here as saying the Pelosi quote in question was an absurdity. And certainly an exemption for San Francisco looks like corruption – meaning that even if there were good reasons for it, the government should have thought twice before doing it.

    You are rapidly losing your credibility here by sounding more like an obtuse troll than a participant in an important discussion.

    *shrug* I don’t think I’m trolling; I think in general my history here is one in which I’ve made arguments, backed them up with citations when necessary, and conceding when the facts show me to be wrong. From where I stand, you seem to be equating disagreeing with you with trolling.

    In this particular case, I’m not even sure where you think I’m trolling. I know that you’ve accused me of “the usual lefty blather that the legislature is the victim in the budget process which renders them unable, despite their glorious and heroic efforts, to pass a budget” … but that accusation seems to be more about the inferences you’re drawing and assumptions you’re making about my argument than it is about my argument myself.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  144. Most L.A. media have no permanent bureau/cadre assigned to Sacramento –
    since they are Leftists, they feel no need to report on the Leftist activities of their Leftist pals.

    It would be an interesting comparison study to see how many Houston or Dallas media have a permanent bureau in Austin.

    My general sense is that news bureaus in state capitals have been declining in number since the 90s; they were basically cut across the board as one of the first things to go when the news media started hemorrhaging money and needed to cut expenses.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  145. Sorry can’t agree to this until such time as other limits have been set into place.

    I understand this reasoning, but I think that it guarantees that the problem will never be fixed – since the mandatory allocation of more than 50% of revenues, done piecemeal without actually thinking about what wouldn’t get funded if this pet program got that money, is a big part of the problem.

    It was at 66% until last election cycle where the Democrats in the Legislature put forth the INITIATIVE that changed it to 50%.

    Right. I voted for that initiative, because a 2/3 requirement seemed to simply allow the minority party to hold a budget hostage until unrelated demands were surrendered to. That said, I’m in favor of a lower supermajority requirement, which is why I suggested 60%.

    But is wasn’t a balanced budget. That’s not important, though, right?

    An unbalanced budget is not a budget. This “budget” shouldn’t count. If in the end the legislature claims that it counts – this is still simply a trial balloon, as far as I know – they should be widely ridiculed for it.

    Unlikely as then both parties would be likely to lose a certain amount of power.

    We had a blanket primary from 1998-2002, when the Supreme Court told us we could only do it if the party leaders approved. We just adopted a top-two primary with no party designation in the runoff; maybe that will help.

    What in particular are you thinking about with this one? I can see lots of little fiefdoms springing up this way

    What I’d really like to see is a consolidation of counties (say, for example, in the bay area – why is san mateo county its own jurisdiction), with the new super-counties consolidating most powers of their subunits (school districts, redevelopment agencies, water districts, etc); almost as if they were mini-states. One of the big reasons for California’s dysfunction is that we’re simply too large, with too many different constituencies, to reach consensus on anything.

    There is a bill that has already been approved on a party line basis that will disallow paid signature gathering for initiatives.

    That bill is almost certainly unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has said a ban on out-of-state collectors violates the first amendment; a ban on paid collectors would be a form of direct expenditure limit, which would probably also be unconstitutional.

    How about, as a middle ground, that any statutory initiative or ICA which requires specific expenditures have a higher threshold?

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  146. Old Coot (#58): I don’t mind when someone doesn’t read my blog and guesses wrong in imputing some belief or position to me. But in my comment here (#50), I included the observation that the death penalty system is “already so badly broken in California and the Ninth Circuit.” The single most notable fact about the death penalty system in California and the Ninth Circuit is that it practically never puts anyone to death. I’ve written — both on my blog and in comments here — that I’m concerned that California’s system is so badly broken, in fact, that the death penalty has become essentially arbitrary in California. The arbitrariness of then-existing death penalty systems was a key reasons for the SCOTUS’ decision in 1972 in Furman v. Georgia that prompted the re-writing of virtually all capital punishment laws in America.

    So no, sir, I’m not arguing that 15 years in the appellate process isn’t long enough. In Texas, the state and federal courts generally complete the appeals process more expeditiously than that — not in a rush, but without delays imposed as subterfuge by death penalty opponents. I’m generally satisfied with the Texas system.

    Beldar (7c0dd5)

  147. I’ve written — both on my blog and in comments here — that I’m concerned that California’s system is so badly broken, in fact, that the death penalty has become essentially arbitrary in California.

    That would be an interesting case for an ambitious young defense lawyer to bring.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  148. What I’d really like to see is a consolidation of counties

    Except, the closer government is to the people, the more responsive it is to those people.

    Large “consolidated” governments (SCAG is a prime example) don’t seem to be accountable to anyone except the “movers and shakers” who have their own agenda. Certainly, we find that multi-district agencies such as the SCAQMD are the least responsive to the voting public.

    AD-RtR/OS! (b8ab92)

  149. “…delays imposed as subterfuge by death penalty opponents…”

    Jim Belushi to Arnold in “Red Heat”…
    “…the lawyers would never allow it.”
    Arnold…
    “Kill them first!”

    AD-RtR/OS! (b8ab92)

  150. Certainly, we find that multi-district agencies such as the SCAQMD are the least responsive to the voting public.

    They’re also appointed bodies rather than elective bodies. In general, appointed bodies are less responsive to the public.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  151. Comment by AD-RtR/OS! @ 142

    Yeah, I typoed it. But when I reread it, SHAME worked just as well. 😎

    aphrael @ 144

    “since the mandatory allocation of more than 50% of revenues, done piecemeal without actually thinking about what wouldn’t get funded if this pet program got that money, is a big part of the problem.”

    We saw this with mandatory education increases causing the total budget to have to be dramatically increased simply to simply to comply with the mandate that 45% of general fund expenditures must go to education. This caused a needed $2 Billion to become a $4 Billion increase in the budget. Wait a minute, isn’t the Teachers Union a solid Democrat supporter? Aren’t they the same ones who pushed this through in the first place?

    “That said, I’m in favor of a lower supermajority requirement, which is why I suggested 60%.”

    So, with 60%, Democrats need to convince two Republicans to go along with them. You really think this is adequate representation for the 48% of the population of the state who don’t vote Democrat?

    “We had a blanket primary from 1998-2002, when the Supreme Court told us we could only do it if the party leaders approved. We just adopted a top-two primary with no party designation in the runoff; maybe that will help.”

    If I remember correctly, their were many areas of the state where large Democrat turnout meant there was no opposition candidates available to vote for. Not a good situation with the seriously disfunctional district system we have now.

    Jay H Curtis (8f6541)

  152. Comment by aphrael — 5/24/2011 @ 4:27 pm

    And, everyone knows that the LACo Supes are the most responsive 5 elected officials in the land – if you’re Eli Broad, etc.

    AD-RtR/OS! (c2826b)

  153. AD, at 152: sure, and that’s 5 representatives for a population of 9 million people. That’s just not going to be responsive or representative no matter how you slice it.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  154. Wait a minute, isn’t the Teachers Union a solid Democrat supporter?

    Probably. I would have voted against Prop. 98 if I’d been old enough to vote at the time, and this isn’t a partisan issue for me.

    You really think this is adequate representation for the 48% of the population of the state who don’t vote Democrat?

    I don’t assume that the current partisan distribution of votes or of legislators is etched in stone. That distribution will change over time as parties change, as the electorate changes, as the issues of the day change.

    If I remember correctly, their were many areas of the state where large Democrat turnout meant there was no opposition candidates available to vote for. Not a good situation with the seriously disfunctional district system we have now.

    I find that unlikely, since there’s always at least one opposition candidate available now. I know that I lived in an extremely left-of-center area and there was always a Republican and a Libertarian and usually a P&F and a Green, for every race.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  155. Also, in the abstract, it’s an interesting question: what percentage of the population should hold veto power over the rest of the population?

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  156. aphrael,

    It is very partisan in this state. The Democrats hold every constitutional office in the state. They hold solid majorities in both houses. Currently, no Republican votes are needed to pass a budget. The only influence Republicans have is the ability to stop the legislature from increasing taxes. There has been only token support from the Democrats towards spending reductions. Most of their budget balancing attempts have centered around moving money from one pot to another. They have raided just about every fund now. The transportation fund was supposed to get the gas tax revenues. This has been stolen and placed into the general fund for many years. This has helped to assure that we now have some of the worst maintained freeways in the country when we used to have the best.

    Basically, where we are no is where the Democrats have put us. Simple as that. Don’t even try to blame Arnold as we all know you are too smart to think he could accomplish anything with the entire Democrat party opposing every attempt he made.

    Jay H Curtis (8f6541)

  157. “what percentage of the population should hold veto power over the rest of the population?”
    aphrael @ 154

    The percent that pays taxes.

    Jay H Curtis (8f6541)

  158. Don’t even try to blame Arnold as we all know you are too smart to think he could accomplish anything with the entire Democrat party opposing every attempt he made.

    So, back in 2003, I believed that Davis was part of the problem, in that his failure of leadership let the legislature run amok. One of the things I learned from Arnold was that this was overly simple: I now think that expecting the Governor, whoever it is, to solve the problem, is basically expecting a Messiah … and is a bad basic strategy.

    Part of me doesn’t care because I’m moving out of California in three months (my husband got into a phD program elsewhere, so we’re moving); but I’ve lived in California since 1983, so it’s hard to just stop caring about it.

    My basic sense now is that the current system selects for partisan extremist Democrats and partisan extremist Republicans. Which is why I liked the blanket primary better, and why I voted for the top-two primary: a general election between a centrist and an extremist should generally favor the centrist … and given a decade or two, government by centrists should lead to better results than the current government by extremists.

    What I really want is government by pragmatists. But that’s a hard sell, particularly in the current environment.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  159. Jay – I’m really not sure how that works. Anyone who buys anything other than food pays taxes. Are you envisioning something sliding scale, where the more you pay in taxes, the more you are represented in the legislature?

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  160. “what percentage of the population should hold veto power over the rest of the population?”

    Well, that is the basic question, isn’t it, over whether this country is a Democracy, where raw politcal power (votes) holds sway; or a Republic, where the law protects the rights of minorities.

    AD-RtR/OS! (c2826b)

  161. “…government by pragmatists…”

    Which is the Technocratic Government that Progressives have been talking about and advancing for the last Century, and it hasn’t served us well.
    It is now time to remove the careerists from government, including from the nomenklatura bureaucracy.

    AD-RtR/OS! (c2826b)

  162. #87

    No

    Not a joke

    Just voicing an expectation… rarely met, but hope spring eternal.

    So, not a joke… sad reality intrudes more often than not

    SteveG (cc5dc9)

  163. aphrael @ #158

    I would say that if you take more out of the system than you put in, then you should have a lesser value to your vote. For example, we have 32% of all the welfare recipients in the U.S. living her in CA where we have 10% of the population. This came about because the legislature has adamently refused to implement the 1996 welfare reforms the other 49 states already implemented. So we have a huge percentage of people with their hand out who will always vote for the people who promise them more or at least are not trying to reduce their free handouts.

    So I would value their vote at about 1/2 of a real vote.

    Just joking. You do see the problems we have here though, don’t you? We have a sufficiently large number of people with their hand out to assure that any attempt to cut back those handouts, even when they are redundant with federal programs, have proven to be a waste for their stated intent, etc. How are we to fix our house of cards before it collapses with the deck stacked so far to one side?

    I would like to implement a test of knowledge before allowing people to vote. If you can’t answer basic questions about both sides of an issue, are you really sufficiently informed to cast a legitimate vote? Or are you nothing more than a gullible patsy for the political class?

    I do believe that if you can’t argue both side of an issue, then you should not vote on that issue. Computerized ballots would allow this kind of determination. That opens a whole other real of issues, but doesn’t everything?

    Jay H Curtis (8f6541)

  164. Jay may be joking, but I’m not. If you are a net tax-taker, i.e. if you get more money from the public purse than you put in, then you should have no right to vote, because your interest is opposed to that of the public. And yes, that includes servicemen, policemen, and assistant district attorneys. (Well, servicemen would still be allowed to vote in state and local elections, LAPD officers in federal, state, and county elections, and LA County ADAs in federal and local, state, and city elections. But you get the idea.)

    Milhouse (9ef3cc)

  165. Milhouse,

    Your statements above are specifically why I was just joking. I would not deny a vote to military, civil servants, etc. just because they receive a government check. Over time, the people and their representatives have decided that these people fill a need that should be paid by the government. In many case, I disagree with that idea but that is the way it is. They each make a contribution to society. (Even if that contribution is to be an F-ing bureaucrat.)

    The ones who sit at home and milk the system who are physically and mentally able to contribute but instead chose to be a drain on society are the ones I would like to be able to disqualify from voting. But I see no way to make the judgement of who that is anything other than arbitrary and capricious. As such, any attempt to do this would be a worse situation than we have now.

    One can dream though.

    Jay H Curtis (8f6541)

  166. Over time, the people and their representatives have decided that these people fill a need that should be paid by the government.

    “The people and their representatives” have not decided this, when the providers of these services themselves wield significant political power. It’s an outright conflict of interest, and it shouldn’t be allowed. I don’t care how necessary the service they provide, they must not be allowed to control the public fisc because their interest is contrary to that of the public. This is obvious, but it’s not politically correct. (In the case of servicemen especially, it’s politically incorrect on the right; that doesn’t change anything.)

    Milhouse (9ef3cc)


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