Three-striker Peter Post was a burglar who unwisely kept burgling and kept getting caught. After convictions in 1992 and 2000, his conviction in 2002 got him a third strike and 31 years to life.
He would have remained locked up for at least those 31 years, but earlier this year Post was found to be eligible for parole under California’s brand new medical parole law. Consequently, he was released from prison and into a state medical facility.
Last week, however, Mr. Post likely blew his parole status when he reportedly brandished at nurses parts of his person that are generally best kept out of site in polite company. (He then made matters worse by becoming inappropriately amorous with himself.)
To be eligible for consideration for the medical parole program which began on January 1, 2011, an inmate must be so medically incapacitated that he or she is rendered “permanently unable to perform activities of basic daily living,” and thus needs 24-hour care.
The idea behind the program is that if an inmate is so incapacitated and/or ill that he or she is longer a threat to public safety, why not give him a “medical parole,”—and allow the California taxpayers save a pile of costs that keeping such an inmate in prison would require?
Why not indeed?
Since January 1 of this year, twenty-four such medical parolees have been approved and released into outside care. “But they are still on parole,” said the CDCR’s Terry Thornton. “And if the situation changes and they pose a risk, their parole can be revoked.”
That is nearly certain to happen to Mr. Post. He will have a medical exam to determine whether all this brandishing means that his condition has changed to the extent that he no longer qualifies as in incapacitated and/or a non-threat. The Board of Parole Hearings will make the final decision as to Mr. Post’s fate.
“But what’s important to note with this whole thing, is that the system is working,” said Thornton. “If you pose a risk, you’ll go back to prison. But if you don’t, there’s no reason the tax payers need to keep paying your hotel bill.”
Thornton could not tell me why Post was incapacitated, because of California’s medical privacy laws. But she said he needed 24-hour care—or at least he did, up until recently.
IS INTELLIGENCE A GATEWAY DRUG?
A new study links high IQs—and actually being female— to drug use. CNN has the story. Here’s how it opens:
The “Just Say No” generation was often told by parents and teachers that intelligent people didn’t use drugs. Turns out, the adults may have been wrong.
A new British study finds children with high IQs are more likely to use drugs as adults than people who score low on IQ tests as children. The data come from the 1970 British Cohort Study, which has been following thousands of people over decades. The kids’ IQs were tested at the ages of 5, 10 and 16. The study also asked about drug use and looked at education and other socioeconomic factors. Then when participants turned 30, they were asked whether they had used drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin in the past year.
Researchers discovered men with high childhood IQs were up to two times more likely to use illegal drugs than their lower-scoring counterparts. Girls with high IQs were up to three times more likely to use drugs as adults. [My ital.] A high IQ is defined as a score between 107 and 158. An average IQ is 100.
CONTROLLING CRIME: HOW TO DO MORE WITH LESS
The unprecedented surge in incarceration since 1980 has stimulated a national debate between those who claim that locking up over 2 million people is necessitated by public safety concerns, and those who say the human and financial burden of imprisoning so many of our citizens is intolerable.
Recent declines in some state prison populations do not reflect a “win” for prison-reduction advocates so much as the extraordinary stringency of state budgets resulting from the Great Recession. The issue will remain after the recession finally recedes and state revenues pick up.
Then what? How should we determine how large a prison population is “right”?
One danger is that we may all get drawn into a debate that is much too narrow. The question of more versus less imprisonment emphasizes the division between those who worry about crime and those who worry about the costs of controlling crime; and it distracts from areas of potential agreement that arise when the focus instead is on the full range of policy choices that affect the crime rate.
If the primary purpose of imprisonment is indeed crime control, then what are the alternatives and what are their social costs? Are there ways to re-allocate our society’s resources to reduce the burden on society from both crime and crime control?
Then authors Philip J. Cook and Jens Ludwig go on to present some very smart answers to some of these very thorny questions.