Sunday, September 8, 2013

Senator Steinberg's Prison Plan

Post from Melissa McDaniel, Period 5

California State Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg’s prison plan proposition continues to spark debate after it had been successfully passed. The Senate Budget Committee, after much deliberation, decided Wednesday eleven to five.  The plan seems more favorable to the Senate than Jerry Brown’s proposition, which would expand more housing in the prisons at the cost of $715 million. Sonya Shah,of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice supports the Steinberg bill, speaking on behalf of the prisoners telling the press they (like victims) need to be rehabilitated just as Steinberg’s plan proposes. On the other end of the debate, Dawn Koepke of Crime Victims United speaks against the passing of the plan, since it would allow offenders into the streets.
I picked this article off of Sacramento's KCRA television news site, thinking about the repercussions of both plans. I’ve been hearing plans similar for months prior to this hearing. In my personal opinion, I honestly believe that there are reasons for every prisoner to be in there. Also, how can this bill pass when these people have been tried, given a sentence, and have yet to finish that debt to society? Who will take responsibility if they offend again however small it may be?
These plans differ, and I admit that I see folly in both plans. So, maybe after you read this argue in the comments for against the Steinberg bill's passage.

The KCRA story is found here.

~ Melissa McDaniel                       


  1. Isn't like amajority of the people in jails at the moment are for minor offenses such as owning marijuana? If that's the case, it is just better to release the people with minor offenses. It can't possibly harm others in a huge way.

  2. Sunny, I looked up statistics on California's prison population from the Public Policy Institute: I learned some very interesting things. The CA prison population is about 144,000. The feds say that it needs to be reduced to about 110,000 to bring it into constitutional compliance. I thought this quote from the above report was very interesting,

    "Assessing prisoners’ risk of reoffending is critical if the current prison population is reduced. Many inmates (44%) are considered to be at low risk for reoffending, based on their age, gender, and prior criminal history. But a large portion of low-risk offenders have committed very serious crimes, such as homicide or kidnapping. Conversely, a quarter of the prison population is rated high risk for recommitting a drug, property, or violent crime. And among those serving for nonserious and nonviolent offenses, 50% are rated high risk to reoffend."

  3. Regardless of the crime, breaking the law is breaking the law. As stated in the post above, these people have been tried and given their sentence. It would not be fare for them to be released under these circumstances, that would give the appearance of lenience on behalf of the state.

    Although it is true that, by any means, that the possession of marijuana is not equal to the crimes such as kidnapping or homicide, it is still a violation of the law and must be punished appropriately. These offenders, however, are only a small percentage of those to be released.

    The prisoners to be released have not committed very serious crimes,but it is possible that percentage of those who do reoffend, will do so in away that could have a 'huge' effect on others.
    Ei. One of those released commits a murder; someone's mom, dad, brother or sister

    A better way of doing this might be to do so over a longer period of time, by changing the punishment of minor offenses such as to community service or house arrest. This will gradually lower the population of the prisons.

  4. How can you be so certain that those who have been tried and sentenced have had a fair trial? Today the United States makes up 5% of the world population yet 25% of the worlds prisoners are here in the U.s. and African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites. we also cant forget the demographics of the united states, approx 12% black, 72% white, 16% hispanic and so on. so, are our citizens receiving unfair trials due to racial discrimination which affect our punishment system?

    I do agree that many people are sentenced for very serious crimes and should be serve for their crimes, but just a train of thought, how honest, law abiding and morally correct is our judicial system.

  5. I could not disagree more, Ray. Yes it is true that the United States contains five percent of the global population, yes we hold twenty-five percent of the global prison population, however; there may be some less obvious reasons as to why that the untrained eye may not see. A great portion of the world is still not up to the same speed as the United States, meaning that they may not have the economic capacity to build prisons or fund the necessary police action to attain prisoners. It is also true that African Americans are convicted and incarcerated nearly six times the rate of whites, but I seriously doubt that it is due to racial discrimination and unfair trials. Everyone is submitted to a trial reviewed by their peers meaning that such a number of "six times the rate of whites" cannot be produced without looking into other such confounding variables. Can it be that blacks just commit more crimes? I would also analyze the socio-economic conditions of those whom are convicted, too. I believe our judiciary system to be just because even if racism were a factor, people of the jury can opt out of jury duty due to racial concerns. I would like to see where you read up on the so called "punishment system" to confirm that it did not come from some left-wing biased news source; as in MSNBC. There is not a rampant epidemic of unjust trials that could incarcerate six times more blacks than whites, not to say that it does not happen on occasion. I believe that we have one of the most honest law abiding, morally correct judicial system in the world; which a judicial system is hard to come by, anyway. Surprisingly, the correctional facilities are not going to reflect the distribution of race as in the general public. It is a way of life, some races simply commit more crimes; statistically. My mother works for the California Department of Corrections and is well versed in this subject due to her job's particulars making myself entrenched in knowledge of our justice system from her knowledge of the subject matter.

  6. I don't think anyone with an offense above drug use should be released. Pertaining to the use of drugs, I think a system in which we decriminalize, not legalize, but rather set up system of rehabilitation for drug users would be far more effective. For those that sell hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin, they should still be receiving a criminal sentence. I support the creation of more prisons though, because I don't want people that committed crimes which could easily have caused the death of a person, intentionally or accidentally, to be free to roam the street's no matter how closely monitored. On Cody's comment he mentions our system and it's great ability is very true, and black people do primarily have higher crime rates and are not incarcerated due to unfair trials. But, perhaps if they were not given the initiative to do so by living in a poorer environment where supporting your family is much harder than many of our families have, so crime may be a result of desperation, not a good one, but nonetheless a result of their poor treatment throughout the civil rights era. Through Iran-Contra cocaine exposed to the more ghetto population's of America for the use of selling drugs in order to fund the Contra's in Nicaragua, along side the sale of Missile's to Iran, simply because they needed the money more so than white people did. So yes, some races do simply commit more crimes because of the socio-economic conditions our government placed these minority races into. Just because a statistic is presented, does not mean it is a statistic you can view without potential gray areas. If I was in the position where in order to support my family I would have to sell drugs, I would do it.