Friday Feedback: Prison Reform

istock_000001483014xsmall.jpgFridays the LA Progressive features a comment that was particularly noteworthy. This week we are featuring a comment submitted by Diane Lefer commenting on “First Solve Prison Crisis, Then Fix California’s Budget,”  by Dick Price

Here’s Diane’s comment:

Thank you for this commitment!

People are understandably appalled when violent offenders get early release and go on to commit horrendous crimes, including the recent murder of Chelsea King for which a parolee has been arrested. What is less understood is that thousands of people — including juveniles as young as 13 — are being handed life sentences, including life without any possibility of parole. Children routinely receive harsher sentences than do adults. These include convictions for incidents in which no one was injured. Multiply handicapped inmates in wheelchairs, in weak and even dying condition, are being denied parole. Parole Board decisions are arbitrary and capricious and in the rare instances when parole is recommended, almost all of these recommendations are overruled by Governor Schwarzenegger.

As for obstacles in the way of reform, I don’t blame all corrections officers. I know of cases in which guards would have testified in favor of parole for an inmate but the system does not permit this. Only people opposed to the granting of parole are allowed to speak–and this includes victims rights advocates who have no direct knowledge of the case and have no connection whatsoever with the prisoner.

I also know of one corrections union official who believes many prisoners do not belong incarcerated, who has led demonstrations for reform, and who blames overcrowding and negative conditions for the absence of education and vocational programs and for much prison violence and prison rape.

The conditions in California’s prisons today make it near impossible for the best corrections officers in the system to do their jobs in a meaningful way. At the same time, incessant media coverage of the most heinous crimes makes it difficult to advance a case for prison reform.

We need to speak!


  1. geral says

    Inasmuch as this government and the culture that supports it has become over time a murderous oppressor of people and nations and at the same time continue to engage in high crimes and misdemeanors against all of the world’s inhabitants, I cannot in good faith consent to its rule.

    Consent of the Governed

    At one time in my life when I was younger and more trusting in those leaders who ruled the nation, I consented to the government’s handling of social, political, and economic affairs and my role in such activities. I impliedly accepted the idea that authority vested in the agencies of government was somewhat sanctified in that all of the people must for the benefit of the world and in pursuit of peace recognize law and public policy standards as outlined by all appropriate agencies of government.

    Inasmuch as government has now become unduly oppressive, murderous and inhumane (as evidenced in part by an uninterrupted string of local and global atrocities and crimes against humanity over the past century) I can no longer give my consent to be ruled by the illegitimate authority that calls itself the United States of America.
    From my personal experience I find that the criminal and civil laws of this nation (and the cultural standards that support them) are impossible to honor in many instances because they are secret in their making, arbitrary in their enforcement and insufferably oppressive in their application. Such obscure laws, standards and secret rules are used by political fiat to imprison and to destroy lives of people in a kind of game where prosecutor, defense attorney, judge and citizenry all conspire to ruin, imprison or kill the individual for alleged offenses that do not approach in severity the crimes and unlawfully brutal tactics used against them by their detractors; neither do the actual offenses alleged against a person generally compare in degree of severity to the crimes committed against him by the accusers. Those government agents (and their paid killers in uniform or in the private sector) who seek to selectively apply their contrived and illegitimate rule of law against unsuspecting citizens now advance against the people with unwarranted malice, tortuous brutality, and advanced cruel weaponry.

    No free man who yet has an ounce of will power and self-respect may therefore submit to the completely out of control government of the United States of America. Any judgment or levy against any citizen or resident of the United States by any current officer of the three branches of government, or by any administrative agency thereof, is by definition corrupt, devoid of legitimacy and intolerable to men and women of good conscience because those who (with evil intent, malice aforethought and wickedly selfish heart) wield the bloody ax of law against our people are the real criminals far more dangerous and threatening to humanity than the millions of men and women imprisoned under Nazi like orders of this hideous regime.

    In good conscience and by the remaining will power afforded by Providence I do not give my consent to be ruled by the present United States government because it is a global murderous and criminal enterprise bent on world inhumane domination at any cost.

    geral sosbee

  2. Formaya says

    Diane makes some excellent points. However, no one is advocating early release for violent prisoners. There are thousands of men and women in our prisons who could be released early. There are NEVER any guarantees, but warehousing and punishment does not bring about good citizenship. We need incentives for prisoners to earn good time credit, and true, fair, conditions to be released upon accomplishing these goals. Education and job training are essential to lower recidvism and create safety for our communities.

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