Inmates must be released but which ones?

By Carmen Herrera |Staff Writer|

California is in a heap of trouble.

Within the next two years, about 33,000 inmates must be released due to overcrowding in the California state prison system, the largest nationwide.

The ruling was caused by citing overcrowding in prisons as being equivalent to cruel and unusual punishment.

The question now is who exactly will be the “lucky” ones and be released? If this ruling is going to take place, than inmates with minor offenses should be the ones released, rather than criminals with serious offenses.

Having minor offenders placed in the same prisons as ones with serious and threatening counts has not worked.

The prison population has become so overwhelming, that pictures show that inmates are squeezed in a three pile bunk bed rather than the usual holding cell. CNN reports that suicides occur on average once every eight days.

Apparently the Three Strikes Law has backfired.

“Prison overcrowding is a nationwide problem, but California’s dilemma is unique in its massive scope and time frame,” said Michael Martinez of CNN. “There is general agreement that the prison conditions across California are disturbing.”

The first thought that comes to mind is that the streets will be swarming with ex-convicts endangering our neighborhoods and potential lives.

Releasing inmates who have proved to be a danger to society is not a smart or cautious decision to save the state money, even during these hard economic times.

After surveying 50 students throughout campus, the reaction was mixed.

More than half of the students were against releasing inmates, while the rest didn’t know about the Supreme Court ruling that proposes to improve prison conditions.

Despite the overwhelming negatives that could result in releasing inmates before their time, there are some positive things that could come out of this shocking announcement.

It’s costing prisons more money keeping those who committed minor felonies alongside notorious criminals who committed robbery or even murder.

“They tried to do it on the cheap. They voted for long sentences, but refused to provide enough prisons to house the people,” said Pat Nolan, a former California lawmaker and ex-inmate himself.

The conditions within the prison are considered unsanitary and dangerous, but with little housing and not enough money to provide more space, options are limited.

Not trying to use the films The Shawshank Redemption and The Next Three Days as references, but there are several rare instances where inmates incarcerated are not guilty.

Being at the wrong place at the wrong time could land unlucky ones behind bars for many years. These types of cases should be re-evaluated to prevent problems of overcrowding.

You would most likely want to see a 25-year-old with a first drug offense let free than a mob boss with counts of racketeering, loansharking, gambling and various counts of murder.

Mobsters and gangsters of that degree should remain in prison, but those with a minor offense that could be rehabilitated, should go elsewhere to learn their lesson.



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