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Two weeks ago I had lunch with a woman who is the Catholic pastor of a large California prison. I should mention that she is no neophyte in the corrections world. She’s worked at LA County’s jails, at an out-of-state prison, and at an in-state institution or two before she got to where she is now.

We were meeting about another matter entirely but, in the course of the conversation, talk turned to some of the guys she sees inside whom she really thinks ought to be let out—simply because they are so incapacitated, that keeping them locked up on our tab doesn’t, she said, make any sense.

The pastor wasn’t talking about any kind of compassionate parole. She was just talking cost/benefit.

This week in an excellent article in the Sacramento Bee, the federal monitor in charge of California’s prison health care system, J. Clark Kelso, has said much the same thing.

“I am keenly aware, as are the courts,” Kelso said, “that a dollar that we can save in the prison health care program is a dollar that can be spent on other important priorities for the state, such as education, money for children, the elderly, other health care programs.”

An aide in Kelso’s office said that, conservatively, the prison system could save $213 million over five years by paroling just 32 inmates identified as severely incapacitated.

Twenty-one of those 32 inmates are in nursing facilities or hospitals outside prisons, which requires spending for expensive guard time — including overtime — as well as huge health care costs.

These 21 inmates’ average annual health care and guard costs total more than $1.97 million apiece — a total of $41.4 million a year for 21 individuals, said Kelso aide Luis Patiño.

With all this and more in mind, on March 17, Sen. Mark Leno of San Francisco introduced a bill to create medical parole.

Leno said 1,300 inmates’ health care costs exceed $100,000 a year, and that up to 700 prisoners could qualify for a possible medical parole under his bill.

With full implementation of his bill, Leno said, the state could save at least a couple of hundred million dollars a year, more than the receiver’s initial $213 million estimate spread over five years.

There’s a lot more in the way of facts and figures on this issue, so read the rest.


Yeah, this is actually kind of usual, from a legal perspective, but given the situation, from a moral and emotional perspective it’s—what’re the words I’m looking for?—Oh, yeah. Intolerable and psychotic.

Here are the details from the Topeka Capital-Journal:

Only a few months before both sides square off in the U.S. Supreme Court, the father of a slain Marine has been ordered to pay legal costs for a Topeka-based church after the $5 million judgment he won from the congregation in 2007 was overturned on appeal.

Albert Snyder, the father of a Marine who was killed in March 2006 in Iraq, learned late last week that he had been ordered to pay legal costs for Westboro Baptist Church in connection with a lawsuit he brought against the congregation after some of its members picketed his son’s funeral in March 2006 in Westminster, Md.

Late Friday, Snyder learned he would be liable to pay the legal costs of the appeal by the Westboro church and the Phelpses in the amount of $16,500, said his attorney, Sean E. Summers, of York, Pa., in a phone interview late Monday night.

“We’ve been talking all day and all night,” Summers said of himself and Snyder. “He is disappointed. It’s kind of like rubbing his nose in it.”

I don’t know how this gets solved. As the C-J mentions, the case is on its way to the Surpremes—and the court is, I think, going to be reluctant to shut up the protesters, no matter how repellent they are. Sometimes freedom cuts against the righteous.

So what to do? I don’t know. But the idea of the family of the dead Marine having to pay up to these hate-filled Westboro people….it’s pretty hard to take.


Here’s a snippet of the Globe’s report. It explains itself.

It is where the government has hidden the most secret information: plans to relocate Congress if Washington were attacked, dossiers on double agents, case files about high-profile mob figures and their politician friends, and a disturbing number of reports about the possible smuggling of atomic bombs into the United States.

It is also where the bureau stowed documents considered more embarrassing than classified, including its history of illegal spying on domestic political organizations and surveillance of nascent gay rights groups.

It is the FBI’s “special file room,” where for decades sensitive material has been stored separately from the bureau’s central filing system to restrict access severely and, in more sinis ter instances, some experts assert, prevent the Congress and the public from getting their hands on it.

Established in 1948 under the reign of notoriously secretive FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, it remains in use today at FBI headquarters in Washington to safeguard what the bureau considers its most highly sensitive information.

Read the rest here.

Go Globe!



The LA Times & the Center for Investigative reporting have a disheartening tale by Andrew Becker about two mentally disabled men who had finished serving time on low level assault charges—but who were stayed in jails and prisons for years following the finish of their mandated sentences. One was kept for an extra four years, the other an extra five.

As for their crimes, one threw a rock during a gang fight, the other got in a scuffle over tomatoes picked without permission.

The problem is that both men were scheduled to be deported after their sentences were served-–but it was clear that neither could live on his own in Mexico.

Neither man was undocumented. Both had immigration papers. That wasn’t the issue. Yet, under current immigration law, their crimes mandated they be tossed back to their country of origin—which was Mexico.

So, unsure what else to do, the government merely held on to them—alleges a new lawsuit.

Here’s the story.


  • I am looking forward to not being called vile names or being accused of being crazy simply because I may have a differing opinion than somebody else. Thank you Celeste for demanding that your participants display tolerance for the diversity of opinion.

  • Leno is ok with people possessing a little bit of child porno so I’m always against whatever he’s in favor of.

  • First of all I wouldn’t trust Leno on any law enforcement and this line is too stupid to believe..

    A paroled inmate would wear an electronic monitor, at minimum, Leno said, and parole would be revoked if the inmate’s condition improved.

    Yeah parole has been doing a bang up job with monitoring haven’t they?

    Who would pay for the cost of care for the 700 Leno thinks are ok to release?

  • “Leno is ok with people possessing a little bit of child porno”

    Don’t you think you ought to at least try and substantiate this kind of slander?

    The article does make it clear that getting these guys out does a little to decrease the costs of care but does more to shift those costs. I guess that’s something the state should do, but it’s not exactly an inspiring call to action.

  • Celeste, your blog is going to continue to be skipped over by intelligent readers, even ones who like you, until you do the following:

    1) implement a registration system.

    2) PERMANENTLY BAN a location that registers multiple accounts.

    3) If you find similarities between a new location and a previous location you banned, BAN THAT LOCATION PERMANENTLY, TOO. The odds of that person being the same vandal far outweigh the odds of them merely being an innocent person with a differing point of view.

    4) Grow a spine. Don’t fall for it when someone who’s put on notice or banned contacts you personally and criticizes you for “not allowing diverse opinions”. Politely explain to them that this is a private blog, it’s not sanctioned by the US Government, therefore, the 1st amendment is not applicable here. Tell them if they don’t understand that, you’d recommend them taking an adult night course in US Government, so that they will understand the difference between the 1st amendment and private discretion.

    Make this blog rewarding for those who appreciate your work, Celeste, instead of the snake pit dominated by people who are obviously trying to bring you down, that it is now.

  • Rob I really appreciate the suggestions.

    I would like them a lot better, however, if you could manage to give them without having to say, “Grow a spine”—which is just simply insulting.

    FYI: I’m considering registration. This week the site is about to have a lot of tech work done on it to find the bugs that have been slowing it down. So there will be no new things instituted until that is finished.

    In the meantime, I will simply delete people. If that doesn’t work, I’ll turn off comments altogether until I decide what new system to employ.

    I have plenty of people reading WitnessLA without having to be a playground supervisor.

  • Celeste,
    This is an award winning blog correct? If so, you’re doing something right.
    For the record, a grand total of nine comments before a personal insult (attack) was hurled.

  • It is truly a tragedy that Mr. Snyder has to pay the court costs for that group led by Fred Phelps. Thanks for bringing this topic to light Celeste. It is topics like this that brought award winning status to your blog. Hopefully a fund will be established and enough money will be raised so Mr. Snyder doesn’t have to pay the costs out of his own pocket.

  • Hmmm, look over the comments in the past several posts and see where the personal attacks occur and who is making them – the same guy who said that he was going to quit commenting, after which the site became civil but then disintegrated when he broke his word and came back.

  • I read the link, surefire, and I still don’t know what Leno actually did. The supposedly damning phrase is as follows:

    And so it is that during the assembly floor debate that Mr. Leno conceded to increasing the penalty of possessing 25 or more pieces of child pornography for “personal use in one’s own home” from a misdemeanor to a felony.

    As far as I can tell, and there is a lot of bluster and almost no reporting, there was a debate about whether x amount of child pornography should be a misdemeanor or felony. Mr. Leno agreed or “conceded” in the author’s words
    that the penalty should be increased from a misdemeanor to a felony. He also used the phrase “personal use in the one’s own home” at some point though the quote is screamingly incomplete. This is also the only quote in the whole post. Somehow this is evidence that he is “okay” with child porn?

  • How about this deal, Celeste? If I focus on an issue, will you delete all comments from reg that attack me personally in any way, even if he discusses something additional in the comment? Will you do that for everyone?


    There are many more immigrants who fall disastrously through this crack.

    VENTURA, Calif. – The arrest of a man dubbed Mexico’s “king of heroin” has disrupted a $10 million-a-month operation that smuggled tons of heroin a year into the United States, authorities said Monday.

    A regional task force in Ventura County spent more than two years working its way up the chain of drug dealers that led to Jose Antonio Medina’s arrest last week in Mexico, authorities said at a news conference.

  • I have a biker buddy out here in Kansas. He’s a Viet Nam vet and currently rides with the Patriot Guards. He says that no situation has inspired his “killer instinct” stronger than when he escorts a fallen soldier’s funeral procession and his group rides past Fred Phelp’s group of crazies with their signs proclaiming “thank God for IEDs” or “God hates soldier fags”, etc. Why this sick clown, faux minister hasn’t succumbed to a drive-by is beyond me, but it speaks volumes for the deep respect for human life my buddy and his comrades have embraced. They fly our Flag proudly and respect to their core the Constitution for which it stands. We Kansans are ashamed of Fred Phelps, but find solace in knowing that soon he’ll burn in some Hell or other. Ya gotta love it.

  • Wow – feel like a total idiot – didn’t read the first part of the post in it’s entirety and I couldn’t figure out why they were talking about Jay Leno and child porn…

    Nevermind !!!

  • reg: Wow – feel like a total idiot

    Beginning to see what all the rest of us have always known?

    reg: I couldn’t figure out why they were talking about Jay Leno and child porn…



    The above link will show some of Leno’s voting record. He has no business being an elected official. He’s ok with someone having 24 pieces of cild porn and being charged with only a misdemaenor. That is nothing but a slap in the face to the victims of the perverts that go after the most innocent victims in society. To me it is giving a wink and a nod to that possession.

    As a former sex crimes investigator I guarentee you I could make you or anyone else here ill with just one photo of child porn and for Leno to believe that in itself shouldn’t be a felony shows not only his lack of character but the complete absence of it in his dna.

  • surefire, I think you make your case much more clearly and convincingly in the above post. That said, I think your source is something of a right wing hit job more interested in fighting the “liberal-dominance disease” than honest reporting. In fact, the line “Twenty-four pieces of child porn OK by Leno” comes directly from a Republican Party press release.

    Here is a different, and I would argue much more plausible, perspective on Mark Leno’s view of child pornography:

  • It’s easy enough to look up the actions he’s taken and his voting record Mavis, regardless of the source. Any legislator that thinks possession of any amount of child porn should be a misdemeanor is nuts. I’ll post more on this later.


    In looking at Leno’s voting record there isn’t a gay issue he won’t support, a pro-illegal stance he won’t take or a safety issue he won’t try to keep from reaching the floor or vote no on. He’s even ok with ex-drug felons getting food stamps as long as they can prove enrollment in a drug program, but I didn’t see any requirement that they have to complete it. His constant excuse for not backing stronger sentencing laws or restrictions such as those set in recent voter approved laws is their cost but spending money on drug felons he’s ok with.

    The above link speaks to what voters have to do to make their voices heard thanks to legislators like Leno.

  • Juxtapose this:

    Why am I being dragged into the mud slinging? You’ll note that I’m the one usually attacked by intolerant people, simply for my making conservative comments.

    With this:

    reg: Wow – feel like a total idiot

    [Woody]: Beginning to see what all the rest of us have always known?

    reg: I couldn’t figure out why they were talking about Jay Leno and child porn…


    And you see where the problem is here, Celeste.

  • To come to the conclusion you did based on that one post shows how biased you are Randy. We all are and you’re no different.

    Celete has taken over her rightful role as hall monitor, pretty sure you can retire.

  • To come to the conclusion you did based on that one post shows how biased you are Randy.

    If that were the only instance of what I cited above, you might have a point, but is isn’t so you don’t have a point.

    Suffice it to say, I’ve gone down the same road with Mr. McNair many times. This just happened to be an egregious and recent example.

  • Sure Fire, Randy had embraced reg as a co-author on Randy’s site, so he feels obligated to stand up for all of reg’s nonsense, assuming that Randy is smart enough to know that’s what it is.

  • I’m sure Celeste will delete this but WTF.

    Smart ass fuckheads like you are a dime a dozen hall monitor. You obviously have a double standard like other weaklings on the net so your drivel plays to only the same type crowd.

  • Just for the record, SF, I know I’m not as pure as driven snow, reg is not as pure as driven snow and you are not as pure as driven snow.

    The difference is, Woody is the only one who acts like he is and that was my entire point.

    As for calling me a weakling, at least I use my real name.

  • I love how liberals believe only they can determine when a points made. The day I retire from my current occupation, Randy, my real name goes up and any time anyone here wants to take me up personally on anything I’ve said they should feel free to do so. I love getting out and meeting new people.

    Your insults are all over this site, just look at your last line. It’s the way people like you write, you can’t help it. You make the mistake though that my type are just uneducated neanderthals ripe for the pickings. I can read between the lines well and just because I like the direct route, according to you I’m responding with a typical insult.

    Wouldn’t the way you insult others be your own typical type as well? Just because my insults aren’t wrapped in ego and a false sense of superiority that’s required by people who think like you doesn’t make them any different than yours when their read.

  • Actually, you just bored me to sleep. What I find fascinating – for lack of a better word – about your comments is the level of unprovoked vitriol.For example:

    Waited a while to see if anyone would post on this, not surprised the cop haters are silent.

    There’s an ongoing sense of victimization here. I can’t really understand why and I’m genuinely not interested in finding out. Just thought I’d point it out.

  • You talk way to fucking much without saying anything Randy, just thought i’d point it out.

  • So you went back a week Randy to find that post of mine? Guess you’re a little more interested than you claim. Victimization, nope just calling out the obvious. Just saw the last few follow up posts and this kind of makes my point.

    Robbie hates cops, he really hates the LAPD who in his opinion are all Nazis. Not a few of them, all of them, he said so on this site but than bitches at me about not thanking Celeste for the thread and you accuse me of being caustic? When you wake up from your nap get a clue.

    RobThomas Says:
    March 27th, 2010 at 11:20 pm
    Sure Fire, can’t you at least thank Celeste for posting the article? You always complain about how she doesn’t report on the things you want her to report about, then when she gives a beautiful write up for a fallen police office and soldier, you only think to bitch and whine about the fact that none of the commenters here sounded off and gave their condolences. You are impossible to please. I’ll bet you that you have absolutely no friends. Maybe a divorced wife, kids who have to see you on weekends, etc. Other than that, it’s just you and the bartender. I’ll bet anything.

    I don’t need to thank her, some things should be known without having to say them. I’m sure Celeste realizes I appreciate the thread. I certainly would never take advice from a cop hating fuck like you though, are you that mental? By the way, wasn’t the thread just about another Nazi in your book Robbie, so what the fuck does it matter to you if I thank Celeste or not?

    Oh yeah Robbie, married for decades and never divorced, three kids, quite a few grandkids and drink very little. Real close Robbie.

  • Guess you’re a little more interested than you claim.

    No, just alternately blessed and cursed with a really good memory, much of which was spurred by the bile in that comment. Some friendly advice: don’t flatter yourself.

    Warm regards,


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