Prison report: The early release scare

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By Just A Guy

Editors note: Just A Guy was recently released after serving a sentence in a California state prison. He continues to comment on law-enforcement and public-safety issues.

Here we continue with the anti-release rhetoric, saying that all the people are “dangerous criminals” and the releases will cause a spike in crime.

Here’s Los Angeles Police Protection League President Paul M. Weber:

“We can expect crime to go up as a result of this massive release, considering California has the highest recidivism rate in the nation, with seven out of ten parolees reoffending then returning to the prison system.”

Of course you can expect an increase in crime -- most of the people sent to county jails and prisons (especially county jails) have been given absolutely no rehabilitative programs. What is the real reason that seven out of 10 parolees return to jail, though? Is it from new crimes or parole violations? Why does California have the highest recidivism rate?

Maybe it’s because, for a long time now, parolees have been violated and sent back to prison for “technical violations” like leaving the county without permission or having contact with their significant other when they weren’t supposed to.

While it is certainly each individual’s responsibility to abide by the rules of parole, some of the things that parolees get violated for the first time are overwhelmingly ridiculous. Personally, I believe that parole should be eradicated except for truly violent offenders; parole is really a joke anyway, and it has never stopped someone that has the intention of committing new crimes from doing so. You think some parolee is going tell his/her parole officer, “I am going to go use drugs today and burglarize someone.” And, do you think all the cops know every parolee on their beat now? Give me a break.

Let’s talk about parole anyway. What is it? Really, it’s just an extension of your sentence. If you are sentenced to 4 years in prison for possession of drugs (or anything else), it’s really a seven year sentence. You could do all four years, be released and still have three years of parole and if you get violated and sent back you can wind up doing, on the installment plan, 3 more years in prison/jail.

Now, I don’t see parole as particularly difficult (just annoying) if you are really trying to get your shit together, but most people that are released on parole get out with significantly less than they went in with -- i.e. no to live, no job, and a worse attitude. Then, they are released to 10% unemployment, have no real job training or life skills, have been tainted by the California Penal System and are ripe to come back. What difference does it make if they get out now or later? They’re all getting out eventually.

When are you Californians going to get tired of spending more on prisons than your kid’s higher education? But this is the progressive state that voted against gay marriage…

Finally, why don’t you seriously consider amending three strikes? There are people that were sentenced to 25 to life for possession of miniscule amounts of drugs and their previous offenses were many, years prior. Guys sentenced to life for stealing a pizza or a bike; that’s a reality.

And you want to reduce prison spending? Legalize drugs. Period.