Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts

I live in California. You might have certain ideas about California and people from California (whether you live here or not). I wrote a paper in college on how the Beach Boys (as much as I love them) created this false image of California. By the way, Brian Wilson was deathly afraid of the ocean, so how much surfing do you think he did? However, that’s neither here nor there. Also, you could consider us a large liberal state (I live in the state, and I am not significantly liberal). That might be true, we tend to vote blue and I’m really not a fan of a donkey, but once again, neither here nor there.

I love California; for the most part. I lived in Maryland for a year, and although it had its perks, I am a California girl at heart.

Here are two things that I did not grow up with, but one could argue are the best things about Maryland: in the fall, the leaves change colors:

Others might argue that having snow in the winter, whether a lot or a little, makes Maryland the preferred state:

I however, much prefer this version of California: (Carlsbad, Northern San Diego County)

Anyway, this post does not really have anything to do with these photos. If you’ve been watching the news, although it is hard to get past all the terrible storms, the Supreme Court told California that they have release 33,000 inmates. I am a firm believer, in you do the crime, you do the time. I also am a death penalty supporter. I know that seems callous, but I believe in an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for an eye, and tooth for tooth.'” – Matthew 5:38

Anyway, back to where I was headed. My coworkers and I were having a discussion on this topic. How are they going to decide what inmates to release? Violent criminals? No. Drug related offenses? Only if it was marijuana. Fraud, embezzlement, identity theft? Definitely not, they ruined people’s lives. Rapists, child molesters, sex offenders? No, maybe, yes, no. It really is not going to be that easy. Now here is my opinion on the issue with the California prison system.

1. We are a HUGE state. Of course we will have more crime and more criminals; it is how it will work. You can characterize it to illegal immigrants or not; Hispanics or whites; blacks or Asians. I am not even going to go there. It does not matter. Clearly we have more of it all. That’s all there is to it.

2. With all these people, or criminals as they are known, they do some particular crime. Let’s being with possession with intent to sell cocaine. Maybe you only had a small amount, but enough to show you were dealing. Perhaps you’re not a drug addict. Maybe you are. For now, we punish you, you’re put in jail, but it is a felony, so you are in jail and you parole. You don’t get in trouble, you lay low, and you’re out on parole. Well, since California does not REHABILITATE its prisoners, you might still be a drug addict, or you might not have proper skills because you were only in the system so long and can’t find a job. Say it’s been a few years and you decide, I need a gun for protection. Well, you’re a felon, that’s not really an option, you break parole and they bust you for felon in possession. Well, now you’re stuck. Depending on any other mitigating factors, maybe you have 3 strikes and now you’re in prison for a determinate amount of time, maybe for your life. Realistically, you’re not a violent criminal. You had the gun, you didn’t use it, that anyone knows of. So, we can’t let you go, or can we?

3. We’re overcrowded and we don’t rehabilitate people? Great, what else is the problem. Look, I am not a sympathizer to any criminal, BUT we put some of them in positions to fail and end up back in jail. It might not be their “direct” fault, but it is still so unfortunate. So Jim molests his neighbor’s daughter. Wrong, very, very wrong. It happens once, and never again. He goes to prison. Since it only happened once, he is paroled; no rehabilitation, but as a parolee he has responsibilities. To register as a sex offender, he can not live or work so many miles from a school, and his work has to be so far from work when he first paroles and is on probation. Okay, great. Jim finds a job, not the greatest, but one that is willing to look past his sketchy decisions from before. He registers as a sex offender each year. He tries to find a home (he began living with his mom and then moved on his own once he found a job). Mom lived by work, but nowhere near a school, but he could only stay for so long. Ok, he is ready. Well, he tries to find an apartment; nope too many kids in the building. Down the street is an elementary school. He tries, so what does he do? He lives 5 miles over the distance from work he is allowed. He doesn’t know if he should ask for special permission. He then violates his parole/probation and ends up back in prison. Now, did he really, truly do anything wrong this time? Some say yes, some say no. I say both. Yes, he should have spoken with his probation officer or someone, but, sometimes, as we know with any job, they are no help. He was stuck. Should he be let go? I say yes. My coworkers say no.

4. Remember when that one woman from the “Manson Family” asked for clemency because she was dying of brain cancer and was denied? How about others in a similar position? Say they did not do quite what she did and the rest did, but they shot someone. I say no they should not be let out, but I know there are people who would say, oh they are just going to die, who cares? What if they don’t and they are young (this woman was old) and they continue to do such bad things? I still say no.

5. Another kind of inmate. You were convicted of a DUI and gross involuntary vehicular manslaughter. You did not purposely kill someone; you made a poor choice (having one too many drinks), and you hit someone. Yes, wrong, but not the same as choosing to shoot someone. Say you’re serving a 15 year sentence of some sort and maybe it is determinate, maybe it isn’t, and you could be let out on good behavior. If it is determinate, and you’ve served 13 of the 15 with no risk to society, should they be let out? I think probably, more so than a truly violent criminal. And if you have an indeterminate sentence, and you could be paroled after 10 of the 15, and its been 8 years. I still think you’re a better candidate than a violent criminal. However, the options have to be weighed as they would be for any parole considerations.

I believe they have 2 years to figure it out. That’s really not that long. I’m not sure, I just think I’m going to lock my doors and hope for the best. I hope that they are able to make the best choices. I know they’ll have to be fair, but focus on the safety of those who they will be moving into the neighborhoods of. And maybe we wouldn’t have these problems if we properly rehabilitated our parolees. Maybe we’d have less 3 strike inmates and less death row inmates.

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