ACLU Crime and Punishment Guantanamo Immigration & Justice LAPD Police Prison Prison Policy

Golden State Guantanamo?

California Prison overcrowding - photo from New York Times

Imporant newly proposed immigration legislation….another MacArthur Park march and rally….
a strongly worded new ACLU legal filing regarding the LAPD….

Yesterday was a full day.

I’m finishing up a deadline so I’ll be back with a new posting late this afternoon.

In the meantime, here’s a post from the always interesting ProfsBlog about how bad California’s prison system really is. It’s titled “Golden State Guantanamo.” Here’s the main ‘graph:

One of the least covered and most important areas of California’s socio-legal landscape is its bloated and inhumane prison system that now holds approximately 80,000 prisoners more than the 100,000 its 30+ prisons were designed to house. While Guantanamo has rightly been a subject of constant attention in the main stream media and the legal blogosphere, California’s prison crisis constitutes a human rights abuse of equal if not greater significance. Three separate federal courts now have jurisdiction over different aspects of the crises created by the endless growth of this system. The overcrowding has transformed the state’s already warehouse like prisons, which lacked educational or treatment facilities, into something that deserves the term “camp”, with gyms and hallways packed with bunk beds. Such conditions, and a chronic shortage of guards, has a more hellish twist when you consider that most of these prisoners are considered players in a racialized gang order that involves more than a dozen different factions (many divided within ethnicity). But suffering can be more mundane as well. In a new report prepared for one of the federal courts (described in today’s SF Chronicle), that of Hon. Thelton Henderson (N.Dist CA), the special master appointed by Judge Henderson criticized the system for being as many as 2,700 guards short and noted that plans to add thousands of new beds would only increase the numbers of people exposed to the system’s broken health and dental systems (the subject of the case before Judge Henderson). I’m not an expert in the metrics of pain, but how many unset broken bones or uncared for dental abscess equals a case of water boarding?

Now before anybody labels this an over-the-top rant by some no-nothing bleeding heart, you should know it was written by Jonathan Simon, the Associate Dean for Jurisprudence and Social Policy at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall Law School. Simon’s own blog, Governing Through Crime, is full of other interesting takes on California’s crime and prison policies.

In fact, here’s something he wrote on my fabulously smart friend, Joan Petersilia, the state’s top expert (and one of the nation’s top experts) in prison reentry and parole policy.

Okay, back soon. In the mean time, please inform, argue, opine, take issue and discuss this— or any of the other pressing topics of the last 24 hours.


UPDATE: Blogfather Marc Cooper has a good take on the immigration package, as I knew he would.


  • Now before anybody labels this an over-the-top rant by some no-nothing bleeding heart, you should know it was written by Jonathan Simon, the Associate Dean for Jurisprudence and Social Policy at UC Berkeley….

    Nope. No reason to see any connection between being a bleeding heart liberal and being a professor in law and social policy at Berkeley.

    If your prisons are too crowded, send your overflow to our prison in Andersonville, where new room can always be made.

    Listen, I’m really sympathetic to some prisoners who need decent living quarters. I will mention, however, that there was a similar study some time back in Alabama that complained about living quarters for prisoners. Someone then compared those quarters to students at Auburn University, who were paying to stay in the dormatories. Guess which group had more space.

    Yeah, I’m concerned about criminals, but I can’t get to them until we first help their victims, some of whom will never be able to be made whole.

  • Why can’t confinement be made “fun” like in this jail?

    LINK: Jail staff suspended over fancy dress day

    Di Cooper, prison manager of Port Lincoln jail…has been told not to report for work after photographs were published of her wearing fancy dress and dancing with prisoners.

    Inmates also were pictured in fancy dress with some in drag and others dressed as members of the 1980s disco group, The Village People. (See picutre in article.)

    The photographs came to light during an investigation already under way into an allegation alcohol was served during a fundraising function at the same jail last December.

  • If the boy scouts can setup and take down a camp for 40,000 people in 10 days on wooded rural land, surving the elements, you would think that the state of california could do the same.

  • Immigration Bill – 1

    Wow, this is great for business, we will now be able to FIRE the American Citizens who work for us now who demand this expensive medical insurance, and hire some illegal’s from India or China who will work for $1 per hour.

    All sounds great for the bottom line – Thanks Dianne and Barbara.

  • Immigration Bill 2

    Ed Royce my grumpy congressman lists all these reasons against the Immigration Bill. Guess he did not read my last post.

    1) Mass Amnesty

    The Senate deal will apparently grant amnesty to almost all the 12-20 million illegal immigrants in the United States – plus the millions who will most likely surge over the border following this announcement. This makes a mockery of the rule of law. The deal will claim to end chain migration – but with an eight year window. The amnesty will vastly increase extended family chain migration for most of the next decade.

    2) Massive Immigration Increase

    The Senate deal will apparently increase immigration by at least an additional half million low skilled people a year for most of the next decade. Imagine adding a city the size of Washington, D.C., to the U.S. population each year – filled with low skilled workers. We face more overcrowding schools, sprawl, crime and strains on all our resources and communities.

    3) Mass Foreign Worker Program

    The Senate deal will apparently allow employers to import hundreds of thousands of low-skilled foreign workers each year to compete with the most vulnerable Americans. Because these foreign workers will be allowed to bring their families with them and give birth while here to U.S.-citizen children, they will be unlikely to ever leave.

    4) Enforcement

    They are promising us more enforcement. But the Administration refuses to enforce our laws now. I do not believe that we will enforce our immigration laws in the future. This is the same promise that Congress gave when they passed the 1986 amnesty. It did not happen.

    5) From Chain Migration to Points System

    They are telling us they are going to end chain migration. But in order to do that they must triple chain migration. Then in the distant future, after everybody is here, they promise to stop chain migration and move to an ill defined “points system”. History shows this will not happen.

    6) Costs

    Perhaps the most staggering issues is the cost. Amnesty will cost the American taxpayer two and half trillion dollars. The true costs of this amnesty will slam taxpayers and endanger this country’s economy at a time when social security will face insolvency. When all the Senators who played politics and passed this bill are gone, our Social Security system will be bankrupt. The Heritage Foundation recently released a report that analyzes what low-skilled households cost the U.S. taxpayer. For every dollar they pay in taxes they get three dollars in benefits. The drain on the U.S. economy will be unsustainable.

  • No Pokey we don’t have to hire “Illegals” from India. Maybe you saw the “Help Wanted” by the Pasadena STAR-NEWS which is looking for an Indian journalist (in India, mind you) to cover the Pasadena City Council. Said reporter required to monitor Council meeting on the net (or Satellite TV, I guess) and interview members by phone.

    Alan Binder, formerly of the Fed Reserve Board and now at Princeton, estimates that 40 million US jobs are outsourceable. Types of jobs that can’t be shipped overseas?

    Waiters, Taxi Drivers, Maids, etc.

    That’s where our friends from abroad yearning to breath free come in.

  • Fianlly, while many of the Bracero, er “Guest Workers” will be unskilled farm labor, the principal benmficiary of the expansion of H-1(b) Visas will be high tech – the computer industry – who will be able to hire even more foreign software engineers on six month contracts and paid a fraction of their laid-off American compatriots. Course that’s better than outsourcing, right?

  • The ‘outsourcing’ story I just love is the one where they’ve shipped the call orders at fast food franchises overseas. You’re sitting in your car at the drive up at McDonald’s. You give your order into that little squawk box at the drive up. That order is being taken by someone in ‘Bangalore’ who transmits it electronically to the McDonald’s where you sit. Your order is prepared and you’re instructed to drive forward and pay. Your order didn’t go directly into the McDonald’s where you sat, but half way around the world, and then back. Just gotta love it.

    Half the folks I know in the tech arena are part of an international team; half their coworkers are in different countries. A number of them go into the ‘office’ occasionally, but spend several days a week telecommuting from home. What’s the point of going in, if half your team doesn’t even reside in this country?

  • I would like to hire a sereget blogger who is willing to accept carbon offsets in exchange for producing conservative comments on this blog.

    So if you are from bangla-anywhere and are trying to feel less guilty for your OX who is passing greenhouse gases please respond to this site.

    I have 5 acres of trees/weeds, which I will vow to never cut down in exchange for your laboring all night on the blog in my behalf.

    Obviously I will need to work night and day at my IT related job before it is outsourced or given to illegal aliens of some stripe, precluding me from blogging.

  • Listener…I’d never heard that one. It indeed is world class strange.

    Richard and Pokey, hope you guys are as entertained writing these exchanges, as I am in reading them

    The “Fancy dress day” photo is quite a find, Woody.

    However, about Boalt Hall, oh… I think you’ll find there are one or two conservatives over there. (cough…John Yoo…cough)

  • Whoops! My bad. Teach me to trust my creaking memory rather than check the facts first. Bangalore isn’t Hawaii for sure. I stand oh-so-corrected. Still, it’d be a small step given the technology is already available…

    Excerpt from the NYTimes (4/11/06):

    “What made the $12.08 transaction remarkable was that the customer was not just outside Ms. Vargas’s workplace here on California’s central coast. She was at a McDonald’s in Honolulu. And within a two-minute span Ms. Vargas had also taken orders from drive-through windows in Gulfport, Miss., and Gillette, Wyo.”

  • Still a cool and strange story. And, yes, six months from now it likely WILL be someone in Dhaka taking my medium Diet Coke order when I need that fast, cold caffeine hit.

  • I think I was happier with the illegal alien who usually takes my order.

    I guess I should have worked harder for Ross Perot, since I have been hearing that giant sucking sound since Nafta was passed. Not sure that it would have helped the outsourcing of the techno based service jobs.

  • No, Pokey. I don’t think it would have. In my truly humble opinion, it is this combination of outsourcing/globalization and illegal immigrant labor that has caused us the greatest source of angst. I think, people are feeling squeezed from the top down (outsourced jobs,) and from the bottom up (a reservoir of unskilled labor operating below radar). If globalization (the 40 million jobs that Alan Blinder speaks of) hadn’t been part of the mix, I *suspect* (but I am not sure) that we’d have been able to absorb this immigrant pool with a lot less difficulty. But, that’s not the world we live in. People I’ve spoken with feel like their in a box. There is stiff competition, no matter which direction they look. And, this globalization problem, from my point of view, is going to be the most devastating because it’s the one that strips away the cushion against economic shocks an education was used to provide. So the notion of “get a good education” isn’t going to be much of a motivator for those kids approaching high school and approaching college. It basically tells people, “There is nothing you can do but suck up and ‘take it.'”

  • If California’s prisons are like Guantanamo, then the prison that had its prisoners dress like the Village People can be compared to Abu Ghraib. Oh, the horror!

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