For Real Prison Reform, Longer is Not Always Better


By Lizzie Buchen

Last week, while defiantly declaring the end of California’s prison crisis, Gov. Jerry Brown insisted further reductions in prison overcrowding “cannot be achieved without the early release of inmates serving time for serious or violent felonies,” a move that would “jeopardize public safety.” In other words, now that Realignment is sending low-level offenders to local custody instead of state prison, those who remain in prison need to stay there to protect the public.

This unfounded assumption is used to justify a large and growing mass of the state’s unnecessary incarceration. Most serious and violent offenders do need to serve some time behind bars to protect the public, but we keep them there for far too long. And the terms are only getting longer. If California wants a sustainable solution to its prison crisis, it needs to rethink its increasingly harsh sentencing policies across the gamut of offenses – not just the low-level targets of Realignment and Prop 36.

A recent study found that California offenders who committed violent crimes can now expect to serve seven years in prison – in 1990, they would have served less than three. Looking at people who committed murder, those who were released in 2009 served an average of 16 years; now, they can expect to serve more than 50 years. This lengthening of sentences for violent crimes is a major reason California’s prisons are overflowing and will continue to do so. In 2009, nearly 100,000 of the state’s prison inmates were doing time for violent crimes, a number that will only grow as the exit door continues to recede.

Continue Reading @ California Progress Report

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4 thoughts on “For Real Prison Reform, Longer is Not Always Better

  1. Check out this below. Something is not right. Frank Courser lost his long-time girlfriend, Lisa Connely early yesterday morning. Lisa was a third striker housed at CIW. She’s had a drug problem for years, which was undoubtedly made so much worse due to her confinement. In the last short period of time, she overdosed 4 times in an attempt to put an end to her suffering. Tragically, she was successful the 4th time.

    Frank needs our love and support at this difficult time. He is all the more devastated because Lisa didn’t have to die. From all appearances, the institution laid back and watched Lisa end her life.

    Lisa overdosed within 24 hours of the fateful last time. She was taken to the hospital and they were able to revive her. This is where the story defies a logical, humane response. This is where the institution appears to become an accomplice to her suicide.

    Lisa was sent back to her cell after being hospitalized. Given the fact that she again (fatally) overdosed, we are left to assume that the institution did not put her on a suicide watch and did not insure that she her access to drugs was cut off!! Why didn’t this happen? Why did her life have so little meaning to the institution? It surely means something to us. I will interview Frank on my radio show, which will air on Saturday, February 2nd between the hours of 1-2 pm. If you live in LA/OC, tune into 90.7. In San Diego 95.5, or listen live at kpfk.org

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