Skip to comments.New Show: What does the California prison system have in common with Harvard University?
Posted on 09/28/2007 7:56:15 AM PDT by Politics4Fun
What does the California prison system have in common with Harvard University? It costs precisely as much to house, feed and guard one prisoner for one year in a California state prison as tuition, meals and housing cost for a student enrolled for one academic year at Harvard. As far as California taxpayers are concerned, it gets even worse. Their prison system is so overcrowded that its reached a breaking point. Either the state finds a long-term solution, or the federal courts have warned that theyll begin ordering the release of inmates, just to ease the crush.
In this two-hour broadcast, Ted Koppel examines how California got to this point and presents an inside view of the crisis through in-depth interviews with inmates, guards and prison officials at California State Prison Solano in Vacaville. KOPPEL ON DISCOVERY: BREAKING POINT premieres on Discovery Channel on Sunday, October 7 at 9 PM (ET/PT).
Designed to accommodate no more than 100,000 inmates, Californias prisons now hold 173,000, each at an annual cost of $43,000. How did things get so out of control? Mandatory sentencing is a big part of the answer. When California voters threw their support behind a get-tough-on-crime bill that came to be known as three strikes and youre out, the state prison system filled up and is now overflowing.
While shooting this latest installment of KOPPEL ON DISCOVERY, Koppel spent a number of days among the general population at Solano. His reporting focuses on the inhabitants of H dorm, where inmates are stacked in triple-deck bunk beds on an old indoor basketball court. Correctional officers are so badly outnumbered that prison officials keep inmates segregated by race and gang affiliation in a desperate effort to avoid friction and maintain control. Even so, Solano still sees three to four race riots a year. Using smuggled cell phones, gang bosses continue running criminal operations on the street from behind prison walls. At the same time, theyre running drug and prostitution rings inside Solano.
Koppel will introduce viewers to many of Solanos inmates, including Travis Tippets, Joseph Mason and Brian ONeal. Having completed a 6-year sentence for assault with a deadly weapon, Tippets is being released from Solano and sits for a brief exit interview with Koppel. The last time he was paroled, it took Tippets less than a day to get arrested and sent back. Knowing that a third strike could land him back in prison for life, Tippets finds out how hard it is to get a job with no skills and a criminal record. Joseph Mason is a third-striker. Hes been arrested and convicted three times for non-violent burglaries, and he wont be eligible for parole until 2019; the ultimate irony is that he voted for the Three Strikes Law. Brian ONeal is also a non-violent repeat offender. He has been to prison 11 times, and nine of those sentences were for violating parole. Koppels cameras track ONeals 11th release from prison as his pregnant girlfriend picks him up and the two drive out of Solano. Within weeks, ONeal is arrested again for violating his parole.
I still don’t understand why it costs so much to house an inmate.
Easy solution: Desert. Barbed Wire. Tents. Blankets. Bologna sandwiches.
There I just the cut the cost of PRK prisons by 50% and made it possible to expand ‘em quickly and indefinitely.
You have varying degrees of criminality in a prison. Get the better men to build a new prison within a triple fenced area. That will cut the costs.
I know many of people are hard-assed about prisons, but if these guys are going to be released back into society we can’t keep making them worse.
Thank the Drug Warriors for locking up people whose only “crime” was to ingest substances not sanctioned by the nanny state and providing a lucrative market to the criminal element.
So take a lesson from Sheriff Joe Arpaio and quit whining.
sounds like the premise for a new reality show:
We asked 5 inmates and 5 college sophomores to trade places for a week. Can the inmates make the grade? Can these ivy leaguers make it on the inside? Find out tonight on “going straight: the college years.”
Just put 'em all in a pen, and let them go at.
Major savings as numbers are reduced, AND, space for more of them to be brought in.
(Of course, with the ACLU and ambulance-chasers taking full advantage of an income opportunity, this method would not work in today's environment).
They’re both full of people who don’t like conservatives?.................
I have to agree. No matter how harsh we make our laws, the vast majority of crimes do not merit a life sentence which means the vast majority of convicts will eventually be back on the street. We should do what we can to ensure that when they do get out they’ll be able to stay out.
“Easy solution: Desert. Barbed Wire. Tents. Blankets. Bologna sandwiches. There I just the cut the cost of PRK prisons by 50% and made it possible to expand em quickly and indefinitely.”
Ah, you beat me to it.
Try ending the "War on drugs".....
Time to outsource the sentencing phase of our correctional system to the Chinese.
1) Let the inmates walk free
2) Pay the inmates to walk free and attend Harvard at no charge.
A conservative says "Easy solution: Desert. Barbed Wire. Tents. Blankets. Bologna sandwiches."
I was going to suggest the same thing for the Harvard faculty.
I really don't have a problem with someone who's convicted of burgalry three times spending a lot of time behind bars. But I also thought about half of prisoners are there for drug related, or other moral turpitude related offences. For such offenders, what's wrong with a tent camp in the middle of the desert? It shouldn't cost more than Harvard or MIT.
It' not the state, it's liberal judges.
I know many of people are hard-assed about prisons, but if these guys are going to be released back into society we cant keep making them worse.
Sheriff Arpaio has a very low recidivism rate in his county. No one wants to return to his jail.
His prison is a success economically and keeping thugs out of his county.
Cutting the taxpayer costs of prison is simple:
1. Stop illegal immigration by enforcing the laws against persona nd business who hire them, house them, and provide them credit and banking. Pay for it all through confiscation of proeprty and fines.
2. Hang rapists, murderers, and thieves.
3. Stop the badly executed war on drugs. There are better ways to reduce drug use without jailing 1% of the population. Prohibition didn’t work for alcohol and it isn’t working for the other drugs.
4. Stop making crimes out of everything. We’re not all felons who just happen to not have been caught yet.
Nope big labor have written state law so that can't happen.
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