As the state seeks to cut crowding, voters favor sentencing modifications for three strike penalties and other non violent drug crimes. The economy plays a major role along with the awareness of a futile drug war and tough sentencing laws that didn’t work out as expected. Tough on crime political stances and tough sentencing laws that started in the 1980’s during the crack cocaine epidemic, and the three strikes law in 1994 has targeted non violent criminals for drug habits and crimes relating to petty theft and residential burglaries. The Supreme Court ruled the release of 33,000 prisoners due to cruel and unusual punishment concerning health and safety issues where inmates are stacked in triple bunks. One inmate death per 8 days that could have been avoided with adequate medical attention was the kicker.
With further awareness that non violent inmates, most for drug related crimes, are becoming institutionalized, where an addiction is bred into an affliction much harder to escape, where gangs and tattoos become the answer, spitting displaced, alienated inmates back into the neighborhood without any job placement or a new skill set, equals the need for more and more prisons. The public has had enough on both sides of the party lines with the majority of Democrats and Republicans voting more than 60% for sentence modification for crimes like shoplifting and other petty offenses, rather than increase taxes to build even more prisons. 70% said they would have no problem with early releases without sentencing modifications for non violent offenders a poll from Washington.
In California there are already 33 state prisons. The most in the nation. California also has the worst recidivism percentage in the nation with more than 70% of released inmates are back behind bars within three years. Nevada however, has the lowest rate of return for released prisoners because they have job placement into sanitation jobs upon their release.
Linda DeVill of American Viewpoint said, “Voters are looking for solutions that don’t raise taxes or take money from education.”
It is about time our politicians swing the other way. Smart on crime has to include redemption and common sense about sentencing laws that consider the prison system as a whole. It doesn’t make sense to send a drug addict without any prior violence to prison where the violent criminals indoctrinate them into gangs. With Nevada as the example leading the way with smart on crime placement programs for released inmates into sanitation jobs, the rest of the country, starting with California, has to catch up.