Special My View: One Thing Bringing Me Down on What Should Be a Great Night

Death-Penalty-Event-Vanguard

This is actually going to be one of the more personal pieces I have written, other than a couple about my family.  I should be happy – the results, most of them, are what I wanted, but I am not particularly happy and those who really know me will know exactly why.

Proposition 34 did not pass last night.  It would have ended the death penalty.  It would have ended one of the most immoral and disgraceful things in our society.  It is a flawed system.  The justice system is not about justice, it’s about political victories for prosecutors and arcane laws that scared voters passed years ago, that many have lived to regret.

But it is worse than that.  At the end of the day, I’m a numbers guy and I look at the numbers here.  Proposition 34 got the perfect electorate at the perfect time.  Obama won California by 20 points.  He won it by 1.7 million votes.  The death penalty proposition failed by 500,000.

It underperformed Obama statewide by 2.2 million.  I don’t know if we get another shot like this.  Looking at the numbers, it is obvious what the problem is.  Yolo County passed it but only 54-46; I was hoping and even expecting about a 70% yes vote here.  Sacramento failed it.

The entire Prop 34 campaign focused on LA County and that only passed it by 54-46 margin.  Not good enough to make up for the red parts of the state.

So on the single biggest issue to me, I lost and it hurts a lot because, looking at the field poll last week, I thought this was going to pass.

Moving on.  I cover local politics.  I like local politics and spend most of my time thinking about local politics.  So I found it surprising to me how wrapped up I got in the Presidential Election.

From the start I have analyzed this as 2004 in reverse and it played out almost entirely that way from start to finish.  Even the blip in the road when it looked like Romney was going to pull this off played according to script.

Democrats learned that anger is not enough to win an election.  In 2004, we believed that a flawed John Kerry could win.  There were times at the end when I thought he would win, but Democrats misread the numbers on election day, and got out-maneuvered by a more skillful Karl Rove.

It is somewhat ironic that it was Karl Rove predicting a massive Romney win, it was Rove trying to talk Fox News into pulling their call of Obama in Ohio, and it was Rove who was wrong.

I thought I had analyzed the numbers pretty closely last weekend and was stunned to read the Republicans who were CERTAIN that Romney would win and that the polls were wrong.  I spent way too much time pouring over the numbers – way too much time.  I couldn’t find what I was missing.  It started eating at me.  I lost sleep over it.

It turns out I was not the one who was missing anything.  Next time I will trust the polls.  Republicans were in denial just as Democrats were in 2004.

If Republicans cannot figure out how to capture more of the minority vote, they are in trouble in the long term.  The fact that the map held even in a close victory, the fact that Hillary Clinton will have a united party behind her in 2016, portends poorly for Republicans.

Make no mistake, the biggest winners on election day aside from the Obama strategists who found a path to victory where NO ONE believed possible a year ago, are the Clintons.  There is no dissension in the Democratic ranks.

Hillary Clinton, who many believed unelectable, has rehabilitated her image.  Bill Clinton saved the ticket this year, everyone knows it.  Hillary Clinton is a tough and battle-tested campaigner, and she will be a force in 2016 if she chooses to run.

Republicans need to kick themselves – they lost two Senate seats in Missouri and Indiana where Romney won easily, and they lost them because they picked the only candidates on this planet that could lose.  One strategist noted that Republicans have essentially given away five Senate seats simply by nominating people that were unelectable in red states the last few cycles.

And Democrats thought they were the only ones capable of doing that.

Big victory for education in California.  Proposition 30 passes narrowly enough to make people fearful but decisively enough to send a clear message.

Proposition 32 has gone down to defeat.  The $11 million by outside forces wasted.  The message on Prop 32 is very clear, you’re not going to get one-sided reform through the electorate in California – not an electorate that is going to elect Obama by a 20-point margin.

You want real reform, then put up real reform.  This was a joke and the voters slapped it down by over a million votes.  I think the scandal of the $11 million is a wake-up call.  I’m hoping we can fix the campaign finance system and hopefully Obama will name some SCOTUS Justices that can fix that travesty.

I’m not even a guy who supports campaign finance reform, but I think Citizens United was a travesty and an abomination.

It was a good night in California in the House races.  Locally, John Garamendi won a narrow victory over Kim Vann.  She ran a good and had-fought race, but the District’s numbers basically held.

The big upset is not quite called yet but Ami Bera has a very narrow 176 vote lead over incumbent Dan Lungren.

John McNerney once again holds his seat narrowly.  Actually the 13,000 vote spread and 8-point lead is more than feared.

Mary Bono looks like she may well lose her seat.

But to me, the biggest win is down in my former home district, as Lois Capps has narrowly defeated Abel Maldonado, the former Lt. Governor and State Senator.

Way back in 1994, I was a student at Cal Poly and Walter Capps, a very popular professor at UC Santa Barbara, very narrowly lost to Andrea Seastrand.  Of course that was a bright spot on a horrible night for Democrats.  Two years later, in 1996, Walter Capps would face Ms. Seastrand again and win.

But a year later he would die of a heart attack.  I was so heartsick that, even though I was a grad student at UC Davis, I came back for several weeks at a time and worked 16 hours days punching in absentee ballot data and Lois Capps, the wife of Walter, would eke out a victory over right wing Assemblymember Tom Bordonaro – in a nasty and dirty campaign that extended over the Christmas Holiday.

So, for Lois Capps to extend her tenure in the House is a great victory personally.  Hard to believe how much time has passed.

Finally, the projections are the Democrats will have a supermajority in both the Assembly and Senate in California.

Speaker John Perez announced it late last night.

The key was an upset between Fullerton’s Mayor Sharon Quirk-Silva and GOP Assemblyman Chris Norby. Ms. Quirk-Silva led Assemblymember Norby by 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent in the 65th Assembly District with 100 percent of precincts reporting.

“This just gives us 54 people that we know are going to come together on day one to focus on improving the economy,” Speaker Pérez said.

Democrats thought they could win two-thirds in the Senate, but not the Assembly.

“Let’s be very clear,” Speaker Pérez said. “This is something that nobody expected to be possible.”

In the Senate, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg told the Bee this morning that he was not ready to declare victory but feels good about his prospects.

The Democrats only have to win one of three swing races for that to happen, and two of those are in LA which is lagging behind other parts of the state in reporting results.

Writes the Bee, “If Democrats take both houses by a supermajority, it would be the first time a party has done that since 1933.”

“If we get there, and it’s certainly possible, we will use it but also govern with humility,” Senator Steinberg said. “It’s an even larger responsibility.”

So, overall, a great day if you are on my side of the fence, but Prop 34 hurts and hurts a lot.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

PHOTO CAPTION: That’s me in the middle standing with (From Left to Right) Jeannie Woodford, Don Heller, Ellen Eggers, Franky Carrillo, Linda Starr, and Maurice Possley at the Vanguard July 26 Event in Woodland.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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30 thoughts on “Special My View: One Thing Bringing Me Down on What Should Be a Great Night”

  1. SouthofDavis

    David wrote:

    > Republicans were in denial just as Democrats were in 2004.

    The Republicans (and the Democrats in 2004) were not in “denial” they were “lying”.

    Love him or hate him Karl Rove is a smart guy, and even if he thinks Romney is going to lose by a landslide he will not “say” it.

    > So on the single biggest issue to me, I lost and it
    > hurts a lot because looking at the field poll last week,
    > I thought this was going to pass.

    I’ve noticed that David tends to stick to the Democratic “party line” (at times I’ve wondered if he gets his “talking points from the DNC on a daily basis). In Davis (and Berkeley and SF) most Democrats seem to agree with the “party line” on most issues and it is easy to forget that many other Democrats (like teamsters) are mostly pro death penalty (and anti-gay marriage). Chris Rock recently had a good piece where he said “black people don’t support gay marriage, they don’t even support straight marriage”…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDxOSjgl5Z4

  2. Rifkin

    [i]”Two years later in 1996, Walter Capps would face Ms. Seastrand again and win. But a year later he would die of a heart attack.”[/i]

    Capps was a teacher of mine–and of many thousands of other Gauchos. He taught a very popular class about the Vietnam War. It was held in a large auditorium, Campbell Hall, which (if memory serves) holds about 600 people. The class was jam packed every year. Although Capps was a professor of religious studies, the course was largely his attempt to reconcile our country with the returning veterans, whom Capps believed were badly treated upon return. He was not a pacifist. But he was a strong opponent of that war who wanted veterans to be treated much better. I liked him. I was saddened when he died so young.

    On to last night’s outcome: Nate Silver called every state correctly. Every single one. Again. Fourth election in a row (since he started doing this in 2006).

    His estimated percentages on a state by state basis were much better than any of the individual polls. His estimate of the national popular vote was spot on. The one state he had at 50-50 yesterday, Florida, is today the only state we don’t know the final outcome in. It is time for the right-wing science haters to realize the earth is not flat and that Nate Silver’s analysis is based on good math, not some stupid Fox News gobbledygook or on a crazy prediction by right wing gamblers, like Wayne Root. [quote]“We’re going to win by a landslide. ([url]http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/post/dick-morris-landslide-prediction-too-early-to-call/2012/11/06/aafe5796-2875-11e2-bab2-eda299503684_blog.html[/url]) It will be the biggest surprise in recent American political history. It will rekindle a whole question as to why the media played this race as a nail-biter, where in fact I think that Romney is going to win by quite a bit. My own view is that Romney is going to carry 325 electoral votes.”
    [b]–Dick Morris, the genius of Fox News [/b] [/quote] Good call, Dick. [quote]The Romney landslide ([url]http://www.rootforamerica.com/webroot/blog/[/url]) I predicted back on May 30th, and in the media virtually every day since then, is materializing. The signs are everywhere that Obama is enjoying his farewell tour. These are the last days of his political career. Read on and experience the signs of the huge defeat coming on Tuesday.
    [b]–Wayne Allyn Root, November 6, 2012[/b] [/quote] Maybe the Jonah Goldberg’s of the anti-science world ([url]http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-goldberg-statistics-20121106,0,7248130.column[/url]) owe Nate Silver an apology?

  3. Mr Obvious

    David, we are in the same boat but on different issues after election night. For you the death penalty doesn’t make sense. Even thought I predicted it months ago I don’t understand how people could ask for four more years of what we just went through.

    This issue with prop 34 is it insulted voters intelligence. It tried to take on a big issue without logic assisted by fuzzy math. If the true point behind 34 was fiscal responsibility the measure backers should have gone for reform. I believe a reform bill is needed.

    In the end I think the voters saw prop 34 as the sham it was. Even a state full of people who reelect Obama by 20 points know the ACLU is up to something when a group of liberal lawyer run around touting fiscal responsibility.

  4. Rifkin

    Regarding Prop 34: I am happy it failed. We don’t need life sentences without parole. But we seriously need to reform the death penalty. It is not working. It serves no real purpose in its current form.

    I don’t know if the legislature has the power it would need to reform the process. I doubt the Democrats would be interested in doing what it takes to reform it.

    But this is what I suggest they do (if that is permitted by our state Constitution):

    [b]1.[/b] Create a two-track appeals process which begins within a week of sentencing, where A) one team of appellate lawyers is assigned to build a case based on potentially erroneous legal rulings made by the judge or possible legal problems caused by the police, the prosecutors or others working on behalf of the people and B) a second team of appellate lawyers is assigned to work on the evidence, making the best case they can that there are problems with the evidence which bring in real doubt as to guilt;

    [b]2.[/b] After 11 months Team A would have to bring its case to an appellate court and its case would have to be heard and decided by the appellate judges within one month (or one year after the sentence was handed down);

    [b]3.[/b] In cases where Team A is successful (that is, they proved that the defendant’s constitutional rights were violated), the original decision should be thrown out and the prosecutor should have the choice of re-trying it or going for a plea bargain;

    [b]4.[/b] After 23 months, if Team A was unsuccesful, Team B would have to bring its case to an appellate court and its case would have to be heard and decided by the appellate judges within one month (or two years after the sentence was handed down);

    [b]5.[/b] In cases where Team B is successful (that is, they convinced the court that the evidence was not very strong or that there was exculpatory evidence that brings doubt on guilt or that the inculpatory evidence was tainted or flawed or somehow lacking), the appeals court should either throw out the conviction in cases where the appeals court thinks the evidence of guilt was dubious or in cases where the evidence is not very strong and some doubt remains, the sentence should be changed to 20 years in prison; and

    [b]6.[/b] In cases where Team A and Team B fail, and all federal appeals are exhausted, the condemned should be executed immediately. That should take place within 3 years of sentencing in all cases.

    These reforms would fully restore a functional death penalty. They would reduce the costs of the process. And they would make executions of heinous killers meaningful. They would serve the purpose of vengeance. And they would send a clear signal to would-be killers that California has a working death penalty for them. I don’t know if that would deter many. But if it detered just one*, it would be worth it.

    *This is really the flip-side logic of those who oppose the death penalty. They say it should be thrown out if it results in executing just one person who was innocent. They should have equal sympathy for the one victim who is never killed because a working death penalty served as a deterrence.

  5. biddlin

    “Even thought I predicted it months ago [u]I don’t understand how people could ask for four more years of what we just went through. [/u]” Not surprising . Your best surrogate debated an empty chair . Your candidate was so far removed from the “Average Joe” hat he makes John Kerry look plebeian . His party, with twenty years to disavow the jingoism of the Reich wingers has given the reins of the party over to its most extreme, least reflective voices . Your tone deafness is epidemic in the GOP .

  6. Rifkin

    Fight Against: it passed with 68.6% percent of the vote.

    [img]http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-am2ehJ6fbCg/UJqWvxgnJyI/AAAAAAAAAsI/Ba-Y0B-alis/s1600/props.JPG[/img]

  7. David M. Greenwald

    “I’ve noticed that David tends to stick to the Democratic “party line” (at times I’ve wondered if he gets his “talking points from the DNC on a daily basis)”

    I subscribe to a lot alerts and press releases, what’s interesting is that I don’t subscribe to any party stuff.

  8. David M. Greenwald

    “This issue with prop 34 is it insulted voters intelligence. It tried to take on a big issue without logic assisted by fuzzy math. If the true point behind 34 was fiscal responsibility the measure backers should have gone for reform. I believe a reform bill is needed.”

    That’s an interesting point. I don’t think the purpose was to reform the system – I like the backers of the measure don’t believe that the system can be reformed – too many different kinds of problems. I’m trying to get a hold of exit polling to see if there’s anything that jumps out.

  9. David M. Greenwald

    I meant to mention the three strikes – sorry things slipped my mind this morning given my lack of sleep. Three strikes passed overwhelmingly. It’s a badly needed reform although it doesn’t get at the bigger problem of second strikes.

  10. Rifkin

    David: [i]”I, like the backers of the measure, don’t believe that the system can be reformed – too many different kinds of problems.”[/i]

    Obviously, your expression of your own opinion is right; and I think your belief about 34’s backers is right to. That is, no matter what the system, most vigorous death penalty opponents would oppose the death penalty in all cases no matter what. They believe that is the moral position.

    While I understand political needs to build a broader and winning coalition require an attempt to distract from that core belief among 34’s backers, I think the emphasis on its monetary costs or even on the remote possibility that an innocent person could be executed are just that: attempts to widen a coalition against the death penalty. The core group would be against the death penalty if it cost nothing; and even if the only ones subject to it were guilty beyond all doubt. Had, for example, Hitler not killed himself and we had taken him prisoner, they would have opposed executing him for his crimes. They likely would have said “we should not stoop to his level; to murder a murderer just makes us murderers as well.”

    Because of this philosophical or moral or in some cases religious point of view, I don’t think the core death penalty opponents have any interest in reforming it, and certainly no interest in doing what I favor to make it work.

    Given the choice between a well functioning system of capital punishment — where the delays are removed and the costs are managed and the executions are carried out promptly — and what we have now, where the condemned spend 30 or 40 years on death row, the system is in paralysis and no one is executed — we have gone 6 years without an execution — that group, I suspect David would agree, would favor the status quo.

    The only real hope for reform is that, regarless of motives, almost everyone would like to see our dysfunctional system cost less, so the money can go for better purposes. But up to now, I have heard no political leaders putting forward any ideas of any sort to reduce the costs. If a liberal who has a great amount of energy for pushing a change which will bring him little glory — someone like Leland Yee — steps forward with a plan, maybe the legislature, which now has 2/3rds Dems in both chambers, would pass it, especially if the savings would be directed to unionized nurses.

  11. SouthofDavis

    David wrote;

    > It’s a badly needed reform although it doesn’t
    > get at the bigger problem of second strikes.

    I’m not sure what David means by the “bigger problem” of second strikes, but I would like to see if we can figure out why close to 7 out of 10 people with a first strike who spend time in California prisons get right back in to the “thug life” after they get out and are convicted of a second strike and head back to prison…

  12. K.Smith

    At first glance, it appears good (who doesn’t want to properly prevent human trafficking and punish those who do it),but upon hearing others and considering some of the other things the proposal does, I’m not so sure it was a good idea. If I’m understanding things correctly, it would make prostitution between two consenting adults fall under “human trafficking,” and make those convicted have to register as sex offenders, which seems ridiculous to me.

    Any thoughts? Can anyone comment on the major provisions of this proposition?

  13. K.Smith

    (Sorry…having some computer issues today. Here goes again):

    David–Do you have any thoughts on the Human Trafficking proposition? I ended up not voting either way on that one, because I felt I was not educated enough in the issues.

    At first glance, it appears good (who doesn’t want to properly prevent human trafficking and punish those who do it),but upon hearing others and considering some of the other things the proposal does, I’m not so sure it was a good idea. If I’m understanding things correctly, it would make prostitution between two consenting adults fall under “human trafficking,” and make those convicted have to register as sex offenders, which seems ridiculous to me.

    Any thoughts? Can anyone comment on the major provisions of this proposition?

  14. Rifkin

    KS: [i]”If I’m understanding things correctly, it would make prostitution between two consenting adults fall under “human trafficking,” and make those convicted have to register as sex offenders, which seems ridiculous to me. … Can anyone comment on the major provisions of this proposition?”[/i]

    You’re impressions are incorrect. It would not ‘make prostitution between two consenting adults fall under “human trafficking.”‘ It does not change the definition of human trafficking. It greatly increases the punishments for such crimes.

    Here is how the text of the measure ([url]http://vig.cdn.sos.ca.gov/2012/general/pdf/text-proposed-laws-v2.pdf#nameddest=prop35[/url]) defines human trafficking: “Any person who deprives or violates the personal liberty of another with the intent to obtain forced labor or services, is guilty of human trafficking; Any person who deprives or violates the personal liberty of another with the intent to effect or maintain a violation of Section 266, 266h, 266i, 266j, 267, 311.1, 311.2, 311.3, 311.4, 311.5, 311.6, or 518 is guilty of human trafficking; Any person who causes, induces, or persuades, or attempts to cause, induce, or persuade, a person who is a minor at the time of commission of the offense to engage in a commercial sex act, with the intent to effect or maintain a violation of (various codes) is guilty of human trafficking; … the definition of human trafficking in this section is equivalent to the federal definition of a severe form of trafficking found in Section 7102(8) of Title 22 of the United States Code.

    The text goes on to define various terms, including “Coercion” and “Commercial sex act” and “Deprivation or violation of the personal liberty of another” and “Duress” and “Forced labor or services” and “Great bodily injury.”

    FWIW, I was in the minority that voted no on Prop 35. It’s not that I don’t find these crimes abhorrent. It’s that these crimes are always tried in federal court, not state courts, and that the required prison terms that exist are plenty long already.

  15. David M. Greenwald


    I’m not sure what David means by the “bigger problem” of second strikes, but I would like to see if we can figure out why close to 7 out of 10 people with a first strike who spend time in California prisons get right back in to the “thug life” after they get out and are convicted of a second strike and head back to prison…”

    The story of strikers is that most getting second and third strikes aren’t thugs or violent criminals, they are addicts and mentally ill.

  16. medwoman

    Rifs

    “Because of this philosophical or moral or in some cases religious point of view, I don’t think the core death penalty opponents have any interest in reforming it, “

    Speaking only for myself as a primarily moral objector to the death penalty, you are correct. I have no, zero interest in reforming it. And you are correct, I would use every legal and ethical means at my disposal to broaden the anti death penalty coalition.

  17. Rifkin

    [i]”It wasn’t [s]want[/s] [b]one[/b] I studied closely so I too didn’t vote on it.”[/i]

    Fixed.

    [i]”The story of strikers is that most getting second and third strikes aren’t thugs or violent criminals, they are addicts and mentally ill.”[/i]

    David, do you have a link for a good, solid reliable source which proves that ‘they are addicts and mentally ill’? I don’t doubt it. I just would like to read the stats.

  18. David M. Greenwald

    This is the story I did on it at the beginning of October:

    link ([url]http://davisvanguard.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5734:study-finds-majority-of-three-strikes-inmates-non-dangerous-addicts&catid=74:court-watch&Itemid=100[/url])

  19. davehart

    David, you are a glass half empty guy. Prop 34 failed but by a slimmer than ever margin. The day is coming. An ever thinner majority is still into revenge and there is no political campaign that can change that. Only literature, art or deep personal conversations with trusted family and friends can convince anyone who holds to the death penalty to turn away from it.

    I watched the film “Dead Man Walking” for the first time a few weeks ago and was quite blown away by how really deep it goes into the issue. The best thing about the movie, and the real life story behind it, is that it shows that the issue is not about guilt, or about the horribleness of the crimes committed. It’s about how everyone affected by these kinds of crime deals with the aftermath. Neither capital punishment or life without parole bring back the dead.

    Revenge is older than the Old Testament and while I’m an atheist all the way, I understand the power of New Testament forgiveness. Anyone who has ever forgiven someone for committing a transgression, no matter how small or insignificant, knows how liberating it can be or how powerful it can be for healing and moving on. But it is also a hard thing to do and requires a will to go that route instead of giving in to simple vengeance.

    That is why the death penalty is wrong morally and especially bad business for the government. It tells everyone that killing someone is a rational act that solves some kind of problem. Whether the killer is solving a problem or the state is solving a problem. It’s bad juju.

  20. Mr Obvious

    [quote]This is the story I did on it at the beginning of October: [/quote]
    I didn’t see much about these individuals having mental health issues. But then again if you can produce [i]experts [/i]who say the Norteno gang doesn’t exist and [i]doctors[/i] who write medical marijuana recommendations for inflictions that aren’t recognized by real doctors I guess you can you can find an authority that will say anything.

  21. Rifkin

    [b]David: [/b] “The story of strikers is that most getting second and third strikes aren’t thugs or violent criminals, they are addicts and mentally ill.”

    [b]Rich:[/b] “Do you have a link for a good, solid reliable source which proves that ‘they are addicts and mentally ill’?”

    [b]David: [/b] “This is the story I did on it at the beginning of October.”

    Unfortunately, your story does not confirm what you wrote here. It does not say that ‘most getting second and third strikes aren’t thugs or violent criminals.’ It also does not quite say that ‘they are addicts and mentally ill.’

    What it says is that a California Watch + SF Chronicle report, which you can read here ([url]http://californiawatch.org/public-safety/majority-third-strike-inmates-are-addicts-records-show-18132[/url]), found that “Convicts imprisoned under California’s three strikes law are no more inclined to high-risk ‘criminal thinking’ than other inmates. That does not say they are less thuggish or less violent than non-strikers. It says they are ‘no more’, which I take to mean as the same. And if the general prison population is say, 50% violent thugs, then the second and third strikers would also be 50% violent thugs.

    Further, your claim about them being more likely to be mentally ill is not mentioned one way or another in that source. That does not mean you are wrong. It is simply not supported in the data you referred to.

    What the California Watch + SF Chronicle story does say is that the striker population is “far more likely to be addicted to drugs and alcohol.” But, again, being an addict does not preclude being a violent thug, which is what you said in this story.

    FWIW, my own take, which I suspect you would agree with, is that we need a much better effort to prevent recidivism. One part of that would be to try harder to get prisoners who are addicts to overcome their addictions. I would strongly favor 12-step programs in every jail and every prison. And if some religious programs run by churches or mosques have a track-record of success in reversing addiction — for example, I know the Salvation Army has a good record in this area — I would favor the state funding those religious orders to come to prisons and jails and to offer their services to those inmates who would prefer a religious program to get off drugs or alcohol.

    Where we disagree is what to do with the mentally ill. I believe the best answer is Laura’s Law, which is not funded in all but one California counties. It would allow, by a judicial process, to force the seriously mentally ill — including those who go in and out of incarceration — to take anti-psychotic medications. That alone would eliminate a great percentage of inmates with psychotic maladies. And by doing so, it would save a lot of money in the long run.

    For those mentally ill criminals who cannot successfully be treated by drugs (either voluntarily or in a Laura’s Law situation), I believe they should be treated in locked-up mental hospitals, not prisons.

    Another area which would reduce serial recidivism, where I am sure you would agree with me, is we need to stop imprisoning ex-cons for minor technical violations of their parole status. Oregon is the national model we should copy ([url]http://www.safetyandjustice.org/news/2272[/url]): “Part of Oregon’s success in lowering recidivism reportedly stems from the way it deals with released offenders who violate conditions of parole or post-prison supervision. Most of them receive community-based sanctions instead of being sent back behind prison bars.”

    Another area where Oregon greatly bests us is with programs to train prisoners to work and to have real-world work skills when they get out. It costs us $48,000 a year to keep someone locked up in state prison. I bet that for $12,000 we could train an inmate-burglar to become a skilled electrician. So instead of letting that guy out of prison with no job training, where he would likely go back to burglarizing innocents and cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars in greater amounts of time in prison, he would leave with the ability to make a living, to then pay taxes and that would cost us nothing. Sadly, between the right-wing retards of the Republican Party who preach ‘lock em up and throw away the key’ and the corrupt Yamadatards of the Democratic Party who take money from the prison guards and the corrupt IBEW and see no benefit to themselves in reducing prison terms or training new workers, no one will ever fix this aspect of our terrible system.

  22. eagle eye

    Prop 34 — It’s very sad 34 was written the way it was, and was written by people with ulterior motives. The writers I spoke to were not concerned about inmates, rather, they were concerned with getting $100 Million for their law enforcement activites, AND, with depriving inmates of essential appellate rights.

    It would have been very simple for the proponents to have included just one sentence in their proposition to protect inmates’ rights to state- paid attorneys for both types of appeals. But they chose not to do so.

    The Legislative Analysts Office wrote to me and told me that they were not sure how 34 would affect appeals! So they left any mention of appellate rights out of their analysis.

    Many people vehemently opposed to the death penalty were forced to vote against 34 in order to preserve appellate rights for those currently on death row.

    re Rifkin — so many excellent facts and ideas! Thanks –

    I did not realize that mentally ill patients could not be forced to take medication. All the patients I have seen were conserved, so their conservators evidently decided for the patient that they would indeed take meds. Because they were hospitalized (locked facility), patients had no choice. Every psychotic break damages the brain, so it’s a long time for patients to recover by the time they reach the point of being placed in a locked hospital.

  23. Rifkin

    [i]”I did not realize that mentally ill patients could not be forced to take medication.”[/i]

    Wikipedia has a fairly good description of Laura’s Law ([url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laura’s_Law[/url]), which is the approach I favor. Yolo County does not fund Laura’s Law, so we cannot use that approach. That’s an odd fact because Helen Thomson of Davis, when she was in the Assembly, wrote the bill, and after she was termed out of the Assembly, she returned to being a Yolo County Supervisor. I assume that Helen tried to get our County to fund it, but to no avail. I also assume that one source of good information for Helen was her husband, Dr. Cap Thomson, who was a psychiatrist. … A personal connection I happen to have to Laura’s Law — well, personal by proxy — is that a cousin of mine lives in rural Nevada County, out in the middle of nowhere off an unpaved road between Grass Valley and Nevada City, and the family of Laura Wilcox, for whom the law was named, lives just up the same road from my cousin and his wife. They know the Wilcox family very well.

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