Guest Commentary: Voting for Billion $ Jail Latest Decision by Retiring ‘Cruella De Vil’ Sacramento Supervisor

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By Mark Dempsey

The “Cruella de Vil” of Sacramento County Supervisors, Sue Frost, announced her retirement recently. Here are a few of her supervisorial decisions:

  • Forty tenants petitioned the Supervisors for a moratorium on mass evictions like they were facing a month or so before Thanksgiving. They had paid rent, but the landlord was kicking them out. Said Sue: it “broke her heart” to turn them down, but she was the key vote in rejecting their request. In Frost’s world, property rights always trump human rights. 
  • In one recent vote, she opted to extend the deadline for the county to enact climate emergency measures a decade-and-a-half later than initially proposed (2045, not 2030). According to her, the source of global warming is “fires [that] are larger and more damaging; exacerbated by bad forest management.”

…Why, record heatwaves couldn’t be connected to human-generated CO2! Climate problems come from forest fires encouraged by evil environmentalists. Incidentally, the fires in the Amazon and Africa are much bigger and had little tree-hugger forest management, not to mention the massive recent forest fires in Canada.

…Meanwhile, thanks to global warming, the “Gulf Stream” current in the Atlantic that warms Western Europe is unstable.

  • Tuesday Ms. Frost voted for a billion-dollar jail expansion (it passed!), impoverishing the county for the foreseeable future. Her campaign slogan was “no new taxes” yet the “fiscally responsible” Ms. Frost vowed to continue to fully fund police because police and jails are what keep our neighborhoods safe.

The incident the Supervisors will excuse their votes with is the Mays decision– a court order to stop mistreating prisoners. But does building a bigger jail end maltreatment, and, not incidentally, prevent crime?

The U.S. population grew by 42 percent between 1982 and 2017. Police spending grew by 187 percent—more than four times faster. Crime is down slightly, but certainly not 400 percent. Yet all the police procedurals and courtroom dramas on TV imply that police solve every crime. 

That’s fiction. In California, police solve roughly 15 percent of “blue collar” crimes like burglary and less than half of the murders.

One nearby example: From 2010 to 2021, San Francisco’s police budget increased by 15 percent, yet total arrests declined by 41 percent, and although reported offenses were up (+28 percent) crimes cleared (-33 percent) and total arrests (-41 percent) both declined. The effectiveness of those massive investments in punishment and policing may even be counterproductive.

With five percent of the world’s population, the U.S. has 25 percent of its prisoners, seven times more than Canada’s per-capita rate. Yet Canada’s crime differs insignificantly from U.S. crime. Even putting drug users in cages doesn’t cure addiction as well as medical treatment (rehab), and it is seven times more expensive.

But Ms. Frost’s agenda is to enrich prison contractors and turn the police into an army of occupation. Even before the billion-dollar jail, the county spent 70 percent of its budget on police, courts and jails.

County jail is currently full. Yet 60 -80 percent of the inmates are convicted of nothing except being too poor to afford bail. 

In Sacramento County, it’s not “Innocent until proven guilty,” it’s “Guilty until proven wealthy.”

The state of Illinois just eliminated cash bail. Washington D.C. has not had cash bail for years now and has successfully managed crime without it. Eliminating cash bail was not on the Supervisors’ agenda when they voted to enlarge the jail. 

Gee, I wonder what Sacramento could do—no, not house the homeless, or deal with climate problems—besides spending a billion dollars to make a bigger cage?

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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