Politicians to the rescue?
Now that the Realignment scam hailed by Governor Brown and the Legislature a few short years ago as a means to improve public safety has failed miserably, the same politicians are trumpeting new proposals without first acknowledging their previous failures. This reminds me of cases involving arsonists who set fires then help firefighters extinguish them.
Not only are these thoughtless minds scrambling around trying to distance themselves from the ignorant laws they passed; they are now trying to paint themselves as again taking steps to protect the public. The politicians are the ones who set the fires. Though Brown has not acknowledged his role he has at least taken the right side of the issue more recently. On the other hand MCD sufferer, Senator Steinberg, continues with his delusional ideas.
Governor Brown announced a proposal that would keep CRC open, add a 2,400 bed CCF facility, and send more inmates to out of state prisons. Though the numbers are still squishy, he has reportedly vowed not to let any more violent inmates out. I commend the Governor for taking a stand against more releases.
In a competing proposal, MCD Steinberg stated, “We cannot build or rent our way out of overcrowded prisons,” His proposal to give counties grants for drug treatment and mental health care is modeled after a 2009 effort that reduced new prison admissions by more than 9,500 and saved $536 million over three years. No specifics were provided, but this sounds like snake oil to me.
MCD Steinberg should embark upon a self-education effort as part of his treatment program. He might want to start by reading the recent National Institute of Justice (NIJ) article, No Evidence of Reduced Recidivism. This article looks at Day Reporting Centers (DRC) offering the treatment and job programs MCD Steinberg is so fond of. Criminals in the DRCs are provided with various education programs, mental and substance abuse programs, and individual case management. They are also offered vocational and job placement services. The study comparing the DRCs with traditional parole services found:
- During the 90-day study period, men in the day reporting centers were twice as likely to be arrested for a new offense and were 41 percent less likely to get jobs than their counterparts on traditional parole;
- During the six-month period immediately following study participation, men in day reporting centers were 2.7 percent more likely to be convicted of a new offense. They were also 80 percent more likely to test positive for drug use;
- During the longer term (between one year and 18 months after the initial study), men in the day reporting centers were 67 percent less likely to get jobs than their counterparts on traditional parole. Women in the day reporting centers were 92 percent less likely to get jobs than their counterparts; and
- The time to first re-arrest (a measure of recidivism) for men was not significantly different for participants in the day reporting center compared to those on traditional parole. The cumulative failure rates of the two groups were not significantly.
- The bottom line: The state was paying more for negative outcomes from the day reporting centers than for traditional parole.
While the politicians play games at the Capitol, The Los Angeles County Probation Department oversees about 10,000 ex-state prisoners, although at any given time, 2,000 or so have fled from supervision. The department has hired 220 additional probation officers to handle those cases and is hiring an additional 143. The probation officers’ union describes a June incident in which a probation officer was grazed by a bullet and a Los Angeles Police Department officer was shot in the face while searching a house during a probation check in South Los Angeles. A man hiding in the attic opened fire on them, marking the first time in the county department’s history that a probation officer had been shot on the job.
Cities across the state are dealing with the problems caused by the crumbling prison walls. The victim count is mounting. It appears that Governor Brown has at least stepped up with some rational ideas while MCD Steinberg follows his delusions. Like Pompeii crumbling under the rain of ash from Vesuvius . The cities and counties are the dumping grounds for the failed realignment plan. The help the cities and counties can sing along with the song, Pompeii by the band, Bastille. Here are some key lyrics followed by the music video;
I was left to my own devices
Many days fell away with nothing to show
And the walls kept tumbling down
In the city that we love
Great clouds roll over the hills
Bringing darkness from above
But if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
Nothing changed at all?
You’ve been here before?
How am I gonna be an optimist about this?
We were caught up and lost in all of our vices
In your pose as the dust settles around us
Oh where do we begin?
The rubble or our sins?