A Vote for Arnold was a Vote for More Prisons

Yolo County has generally been a reliably Democratic County. In 2004, Kerry received 59% of the vote in Yolo County to Bush’s 39 percent of the vote. In fact, Yolo in 2000 was one of only six California counties to oppose Proposition 22, which limited marriages to those legally sanctioned unions between a man and a woman.

So it comes as a bit of a shocker to see Arnold Schwarzenegger win Yolo County by double-digit margins. Did Yolo suddenly become a Republican County? As we look down ticket, the answer is an emphatic no, all Democrats down ticket won by at least double digits and some gained over 60 percent of the vote. The only other Democrat to lose was Bustamante who lost by three percent, in a race that he lost by huge margins statewide. It’s safe to say, Democrats in Yolo County outperformed their margins of victory statewide.

I am left to the conclusion that a large number of otherwise reliable Democratic voters switched sides to vote for Arnold. While Angelides ran an amazingly flat race, I think Democrats quickly forgot about the 2005 special elections where Arnold went after unions, teachers, nurses, etc. Did Arnold suddenly become a Democrat?

On Monday, the Sacramento Bee wrote an article, “Fears of welfare, health cuts.” Apparently the state of California is projected a $5.5 billion shortfall and the fear among advocates for working families and the poor is that he is going to once again balance the budget on the backs of those individuals who can least afford it.

To make matters worse, yesterday, the Bee ran an article, “$10 billion plan for new prisons readied.”

“Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is preparing to roll out a plan next year that will call for about $10 billion in construction for prisons, jails and medical facilities, and include support for a sentencing commission, according to sources familiar with the proposal.

Sources said the breakdown on funding would allocate about $4.4 billion to prisons and re-entry institutions, $4.4 billion for county jail and juvenile beds and $1 billion for medical facilities to satisfy court monitors in two federal cases overseeing health care and treatment of the mentally ill.”

We already spend around $6 billion per year just on correctional facilities. Do we need improved prison facilities? By all means. But this is a question about budget priorities and the distribution of very scarce resources. The governor is threatening to cut money to the poor while additional money is being allocated to correctional facilities.

The thing about correctional facilities is that they are in essence a “black hole.When you put money into education, you are making an investment–you are putting money into educating our youth now, so that they can be more productive in the future. When you put money into health care, you are making an investment–you allow people to get medical treatment now which allows them to live better and more productively in the future. When you put money into prisons, you are throwing it into a black hole. It bandages the problem of having too many inmates, but it does nothing to prevent people from ending up in prison to begin with.

It is very simple. When Democrats vote for Republicans, even moderate Republicans, even when there is a strong Democratic majority in both houses of the legislature, they are voting for priorities and Republicans place prisons as a priority over health care, over the poor, and over education.

That is the bottom line. But it is a lesson that Yolo County Democrats have not learned. Many prominent ones have continued to back Republicans in non-partisan races over Democrats. That is part of the same problem, because now you are advancing the career of young Republican officeholders at the expense of Democrats for what is at best a short-term gain. When Republicans get elected to office, we know what happens and we know whose priorities suffer. We ought to never forget.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

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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28 Comments

  1. Doug Paul Davis

    The plot thickens:

    “A former acting corrections secretary testified Wednesday that her plans to reform California’s sentencing structure were pushed aside by top aides to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who suggested that such an overhaul might hurt his re-election bid.”

    Sac Bee Article

  2. Doug Paul Davis

    The plot thickens:

    “A former acting corrections secretary testified Wednesday that her plans to reform California’s sentencing structure were pushed aside by top aides to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who suggested that such an overhaul might hurt his re-election bid.”

    Sac Bee Article

  3. Doug Paul Davis

    The plot thickens:

    “A former acting corrections secretary testified Wednesday that her plans to reform California’s sentencing structure were pushed aside by top aides to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who suggested that such an overhaul might hurt his re-election bid.”

    Sac Bee Article

  4. Doug Paul Davis

    The plot thickens:

    “A former acting corrections secretary testified Wednesday that her plans to reform California’s sentencing structure were pushed aside by top aides to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who suggested that such an overhaul might hurt his re-election bid.”

    Sac Bee Article

  5. Anonymous

    One problem is that Arnold has caved into the prison guard union as a result of the special election. More prisons mean more prison guard employment and a stronger union. Furthermore, this is great news for others working in The System by providing more cell capacity – something they look forward to filling.

    To be perfectly fair, Arnold did add a few reform proposals, which might reduce the inflow. Additionally, the prisons are at full capacity. However, I object to building any prisons without a major sentencing reform effort. Nobody wants to walk among dangerous people, but we are throwing a lot of other people in jail also.

    Our probation terms are longer than most other states resulting in too many people going back to prison on parole violations. The three strikes law is flawed – as an example a guy was given a 30-year sentence for stealing a $200 drill from Home Depot because that was his third strike. In that case the taxpayers get to pay roughly $1.2 million to house the thief in a state prison over the 30-year term. There must be a better way to punish people like that.SAH

  6. Anonymous

    One problem is that Arnold has caved into the prison guard union as a result of the special election. More prisons mean more prison guard employment and a stronger union. Furthermore, this is great news for others working in The System by providing more cell capacity – something they look forward to filling.

    To be perfectly fair, Arnold did add a few reform proposals, which might reduce the inflow. Additionally, the prisons are at full capacity. However, I object to building any prisons without a major sentencing reform effort. Nobody wants to walk among dangerous people, but we are throwing a lot of other people in jail also.

    Our probation terms are longer than most other states resulting in too many people going back to prison on parole violations. The three strikes law is flawed – as an example a guy was given a 30-year sentence for stealing a $200 drill from Home Depot because that was his third strike. In that case the taxpayers get to pay roughly $1.2 million to house the thief in a state prison over the 30-year term. There must be a better way to punish people like that.SAH

  7. Anonymous

    One problem is that Arnold has caved into the prison guard union as a result of the special election. More prisons mean more prison guard employment and a stronger union. Furthermore, this is great news for others working in The System by providing more cell capacity – something they look forward to filling.

    To be perfectly fair, Arnold did add a few reform proposals, which might reduce the inflow. Additionally, the prisons are at full capacity. However, I object to building any prisons without a major sentencing reform effort. Nobody wants to walk among dangerous people, but we are throwing a lot of other people in jail also.

    Our probation terms are longer than most other states resulting in too many people going back to prison on parole violations. The three strikes law is flawed – as an example a guy was given a 30-year sentence for stealing a $200 drill from Home Depot because that was his third strike. In that case the taxpayers get to pay roughly $1.2 million to house the thief in a state prison over the 30-year term. There must be a better way to punish people like that.SAH

  8. Anonymous

    One problem is that Arnold has caved into the prison guard union as a result of the special election. More prisons mean more prison guard employment and a stronger union. Furthermore, this is great news for others working in The System by providing more cell capacity – something they look forward to filling.

    To be perfectly fair, Arnold did add a few reform proposals, which might reduce the inflow. Additionally, the prisons are at full capacity. However, I object to building any prisons without a major sentencing reform effort. Nobody wants to walk among dangerous people, but we are throwing a lot of other people in jail also.

    Our probation terms are longer than most other states resulting in too many people going back to prison on parole violations. The three strikes law is flawed – as an example a guy was given a 30-year sentence for stealing a $200 drill from Home Depot because that was his third strike. In that case the taxpayers get to pay roughly $1.2 million to house the thief in a state prison over the 30-year term. There must be a better way to punish people like that.SAH

  9. davisite

    The Yolo Democratic power structure finds that support for social justice issues(Democrat), mixed with overriding economic self-interest and topped off with fear…largely racially-based(Republican)
    wins elections . People’s Vanguard of Davis does its small but vital part in putting the issues before the voters and asking them to honestly come to grips with how their voting choices reflects the value choices that they are teaching their children.

  10. davisite

    The Yolo Democratic power structure finds that support for social justice issues(Democrat), mixed with overriding economic self-interest and topped off with fear…largely racially-based(Republican)
    wins elections . People’s Vanguard of Davis does its small but vital part in putting the issues before the voters and asking them to honestly come to grips with how their voting choices reflects the value choices that they are teaching their children.

  11. davisite

    The Yolo Democratic power structure finds that support for social justice issues(Democrat), mixed with overriding economic self-interest and topped off with fear…largely racially-based(Republican)
    wins elections . People’s Vanguard of Davis does its small but vital part in putting the issues before the voters and asking them to honestly come to grips with how their voting choices reflects the value choices that they are teaching their children.

  12. davisite

    The Yolo Democratic power structure finds that support for social justice issues(Democrat), mixed with overriding economic self-interest and topped off with fear…largely racially-based(Republican)
    wins elections . People’s Vanguard of Davis does its small but vital part in putting the issues before the voters and asking them to honestly come to grips with how their voting choices reflects the value choices that they are teaching their children.

  13. Doug Paul Davis

    I was glancing at Rexroad’s blog, he was talking about prison reform…

    Rexroad,

    “1) What crimes are we going to continue to lock people up for? There are some that I feel people are getting off way too easy — like sexual predators. Others I am starting to wonder about — including some of the drug related crimes.”

    Interesting reading that since Rexroad and I come from very different ideological backgrounds and yet this is something that we agree on. Particularly with regards to children, I do not think we are near tough enough on sexual predators.

    And yet we have bogged our system down with a lot of non-violent drug-law offenders.

    I think what will be interesting is to watch how politics changes as my generation (I’m just slightly younger than Rexroad) begins to take power. I think those of us in our 30s or young have a very different view of drug laws and sexual orientation than the generation now starting to exit power who preceeded the baby boomers. And these changes more and more seem to cut across political lines.

  14. Doug Paul Davis

    I was glancing at Rexroad’s blog, he was talking about prison reform…

    Rexroad,

    “1) What crimes are we going to continue to lock people up for? There are some that I feel people are getting off way too easy — like sexual predators. Others I am starting to wonder about — including some of the drug related crimes.”

    Interesting reading that since Rexroad and I come from very different ideological backgrounds and yet this is something that we agree on. Particularly with regards to children, I do not think we are near tough enough on sexual predators.

    And yet we have bogged our system down with a lot of non-violent drug-law offenders.

    I think what will be interesting is to watch how politics changes as my generation (I’m just slightly younger than Rexroad) begins to take power. I think those of us in our 30s or young have a very different view of drug laws and sexual orientation than the generation now starting to exit power who preceeded the baby boomers. And these changes more and more seem to cut across political lines.

  15. Doug Paul Davis

    I was glancing at Rexroad’s blog, he was talking about prison reform…

    Rexroad,

    “1) What crimes are we going to continue to lock people up for? There are some that I feel people are getting off way too easy — like sexual predators. Others I am starting to wonder about — including some of the drug related crimes.”

    Interesting reading that since Rexroad and I come from very different ideological backgrounds and yet this is something that we agree on. Particularly with regards to children, I do not think we are near tough enough on sexual predators.

    And yet we have bogged our system down with a lot of non-violent drug-law offenders.

    I think what will be interesting is to watch how politics changes as my generation (I’m just slightly younger than Rexroad) begins to take power. I think those of us in our 30s or young have a very different view of drug laws and sexual orientation than the generation now starting to exit power who preceeded the baby boomers. And these changes more and more seem to cut across political lines.

  16. Doug Paul Davis

    I was glancing at Rexroad’s blog, he was talking about prison reform…

    Rexroad,

    “1) What crimes are we going to continue to lock people up for? There are some that I feel people are getting off way too easy — like sexual predators. Others I am starting to wonder about — including some of the drug related crimes.”

    Interesting reading that since Rexroad and I come from very different ideological backgrounds and yet this is something that we agree on. Particularly with regards to children, I do not think we are near tough enough on sexual predators.

    And yet we have bogged our system down with a lot of non-violent drug-law offenders.

    I think what will be interesting is to watch how politics changes as my generation (I’m just slightly younger than Rexroad) begins to take power. I think those of us in our 30s or young have a very different view of drug laws and sexual orientation than the generation now starting to exit power who preceeded the baby boomers. And these changes more and more seem to cut across political lines.

  17. Anonymous

    “Many prominent ones [Democrats] have continued to back Republicans in non-partisan races over Democrats.” Huh?

    “Non-partisan” doesn’t have Democrats or Republicans. That’s why it’s called “non-partisan.”

  18. Anonymous

    “Many prominent ones [Democrats] have continued to back Republicans in non-partisan races over Democrats.” Huh?

    “Non-partisan” doesn’t have Democrats or Republicans. That’s why it’s called “non-partisan.”

  19. Anonymous

    “Many prominent ones [Democrats] have continued to back Republicans in non-partisan races over Democrats.” Huh?

    “Non-partisan” doesn’t have Democrats or Republicans. That’s why it’s called “non-partisan.”

  20. Anonymous

    “Many prominent ones [Democrats] have continued to back Republicans in non-partisan races over Democrats.” Huh?

    “Non-partisan” doesn’t have Democrats or Republicans. That’s why it’s called “non-partisan.”

  21. Anonymous

    Probably some old Yolo County “Blue Dog” Democrats that don’t want “San Francisco” values in Yolo and vote with their conservative brethern Republicans.

  22. Anonymous

    Probably some old Yolo County “Blue Dog” Democrats that don’t want “San Francisco” values in Yolo and vote with their conservative brethern Republicans.

  23. Anonymous

    Probably some old Yolo County “Blue Dog” Democrats that don’t want “San Francisco” values in Yolo and vote with their conservative brethern Republicans.

  24. Anonymous

    Probably some old Yolo County “Blue Dog” Democrats that don’t want “San Francisco” values in Yolo and vote with their conservative brethern Republicans.

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