May 28, 2008
I read a Newspaper article recently. It was about the USA’s prison
population and it’s quite sobering to see the statistics it quoted in this
article. The title of the article is ‘America Leads World in Inmates’ and was
written by Adam Liptak in The New York Times (April 2008).
said that United States has 5% of the world’s population, yet it has almost a
quarter of the world’s prisoners. It went on to say many prisoners in America
are locked up for crimes, which would not be worthy of prison in other
countries, for identical crimes.
I mention these facts because in
California there is a budget crises and politicians are cutting the budgets for
basic needs of school children. They aren’t cutting the frills, like music and
sports, but the basic necessities like books and even teachers are losing their
On the other hand, the prison population keeps growing. A few
months ago I saw a story on the news about the Governor (that would be Governor
Arnie) exploring the possibility of releasing over 20.000 prisoners from
California prisons. The news story did not mention the prisoners would be
minimum risk prisoners who, in most cases, had only months left on their
sentences. All the news media emphasized was that the Governor is exploring the
possibility of releasing over 20.000 prisoners in order to cut costs in the
state budget. Most of the prisoners who were being considered for release
wouldn’t even be in prison in other countries (for identical crimes). The
irresponsible news media seemed more interested in trying to scare people and
ignored the essence of the story.
I saw something on a public affairs TV
show recently. It said the prisoner early release in California was not going to
happen, because of special interest groups (that would be the Prisoner Guard
Union and the Victim’s Rights Group) putting pressure on the Governor to not
release any prisoners. You have to wonder, if there are over 20.000 prisoners
who could qualify for early release or could be released because their crimes
were not very serious, why are they in prison in the first place? It boggles
the mind that politicians would rather keep prisoners locked up and cut the
budgets for schools and school children. Last night I saw a story on the
news about parents in one of the poorer school districts, having fundraisers to
try and raise money for their school. Money to fund the basic necessities, not
for anything that would be considered frills.
It seems in regards to
American (and California in particular) prisons, it has become a case of the
tail wagging the dog. A couple of special interest groups lobbying Politicians
to fund prisons, rather than providing funds for schools and school children. I
guess the school children can always grow up and turn to crime and become
prisoners, since they won’t have the education to pursue anything else in their
lives. Talk about a case of cutting off your nose in spite of your face.
It is important to let politicians know how you feel about this sort of
thing. If you want money to go to prisons, let them know that. If you want
funding for education, let them know that as well.
That is all I have to
say this time. Feel free to check out the Letter Section on this site.
a letter in yourself, it might make it into the letter section too.
also write me by regular mail. My address is listed on this site.
best to you all.
p.o. Box C-97919
San Quentin Prison
San Quentin, California 94974
Soon after I wrote this – the Court has ordered the Californian Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to release at least 40.000 prisoners to relieve
overcrowding in the Prisons.
The State of California can either comply with this or can try to fight this order in the Courts.
The Court didn’t order the release to save money, but to help fight the horrible prison conditions such as lack of healthcare and overcrowding.