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Letters to the Editor

Letter To The Editor: Proposed Prison Reform
Posted by Patricia St. Peter on Mar 27, 2005 - 7:34:00 PM

     I recently read an article that states that after reviewing the Governor's plan to reorganize the Youth and Adult Correctional Agency, The Little Hoover Commission has concluded that the plan would enable significant improvements regarding the performance of correctional programs and enhance public safety. 

     I personally read this proposed plan myself and as a taxpayer, I completely disagree with them and here is why:

There is to little consideration regarding the most fundamental and necessary programs needed to reform and rehabilitate prisoners, male and female alike.

    There is little or no focus on lowering recidivism rates and it is amazing to me that the Little Hoover Commission would even consider implementing this band-aid style attempt of reform that would not even consider adopting or creating a plan similar to that of the State of Missouri that has proven an extremely low recidivism rate of only 10%.

    The recidivism rate in the State of California has been as high as 88.4%. (see available statistics. http://www.corr.ca.gov/OffenderInfoServices/Reports/Annual/PVRET2/PVRET2d200

3.pdf).
    When over half of the prison population returns back into custody it should be a prime concern., (see prison population statistics http://www.corr.ca.gov/OffenderInfoServices/Reports/WeeklyWed/TPOP1A/TPOP1Ad

050223.pdf).

    Mental health and rehabilitation are two main ingredients and necessary components in reforming inmates yet, in the new reform plan, they are departments that are separate and apart.

    Mental and medical health issues are geared more towards lowering overall costs than to heal the sick.  Mental and medical health care costs are high. There are other states using programs that are more affordable. We should be mimicking those states and not cutting back funding for the programs we are already using that are lacking.

    Statistics have proven that the majority of the inmates in California prisons suffer from mental illness yet the amount of authority the medical care providers have within the prison walls is almost nil.  The mentally ill inmates should be in hospitals and not kept in prison cages.
   

Rehabilitation is all about healing.

    The proposed reform will be cutting necessary programs at the expense of the under educated, drug addicted and mentally ill inmate and let's not forget about the general public, their safety, and what will be the ultimate cost to the tax payer that is funding this proposal to begin with?

    At the same time much attention is going towards creating a Risk Management Program designed to protect the state from lawsuits stemming from the inmate abuse that occurs daily.  I agree that there should be cameras inside the prison walls that cannot be turned off and that the only way to solve the abuse is to end it. Fire those correctional officers that are doing the abuses and hold them legally accountable for their wrong doing.

Put them behind bars.

        The refusal to allow for a Civilian Corrections Commission has created a great distrust of this proposed plan and the scrutiny will continue. There will still be no measurable amount of accountability. The proposed program does not embrace the idea that the Civilian taxpaying communities concerns and considerations are credible when they should in fact invite such a proposed opportunity.

    To much authority and responsibility lies in the hands of the proposed Secretary position. The proposed plan has it's positive points yet at the same time it lacks
in to many areas.

    It is no doubt that the prison system needs to be reformed but grabbing to quickly at a program that is lacking such as this one will not guarantee the positive changes that are needed.  Allowing this plan to be implemented in California without making further considerations and revisions will be a huge costly mistake for the taxpayers.

   
    This reorganization plan is no better than if I had sent my three year old into clean up his own room. The mess is just shuffled around. It sounded like a good idea in the beginning but upon full inspection I am still looking at a gigantic mess!

    If they are going to observe and create a statistical outline then they should also be functionally pro active in creating preventative programs designed to positively aid the inmates in rehabilitation. It's all about the numbers though isn't it? Especially when the numbers are on a dollar bill.

Read on,
     Taking funds away from prison inmate programs that are designed to rehabilitate the offender just to eliminate the "overall" prison costs are not going to help anyone but the correctional department. As it is prisoners already live on a steady diet of chicken thighs and wings. What are they going to feed them now? The innards? 

    I am a taxpayer and I demand that there be a Civilian Corrections Commission! Otherwise there will STILL be NO measurable amount of accountability. The proposed reform will still be an enclosed web of hush, hush and pats on the back and cutting of necessary programs at the expense of the under educated, drug addicted and MENTALLY ILL inmate and let's not forget about the general public, their safety, and at what will be the ultimate cost to the unknowing and naive tax payer that is funding this mess to begin with!
     The plan is almost cookie cutter design. It's actually more the shape of a box or better yet a prison cell. It still keeps everything inside and away from the public's eye. Of course they are spending money to develop a risk management department for themselves. It gets pretty darned expensive when they are injuring, maiming and killing the people they are hired to watch over. The risk management program is yet another smoke screen!  The department of corrections is probably going to cut out the sugar in that hot Kool-aid they have been giving the inmates to drink to cover the cost
for this program!

    I have a quick question.

    If Missouri has come up with a program design that is working so well that their recidivism rate is only 10% then why in the hell aren't we adopting that plan? Every tax paying citizen needs to get a copy of this proposal and see where their money is being spent! To top it all off, neither the current system nor the proposed reorganization includes a chief financial officer so there will be no accountability for finances!
  
Patricia St. Peter
Victorville, Ca



 

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Serving Bel Air, Benedict Canyon, Beverly Hills. Brentwood, Laurel Canyon, Los Feliz, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Melrose, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Topanga, Canyon, Westwood & Hollywood Hills.