A bloated prison system is against the country’s best interests. Yet “tough on crime” rhetoric has gotten in the way of reform.
By Liliana Segura, AlterNet. Posted March 5, 2008.
When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared plans in January 2005 to reform California’s prisons, starting with a rebranding campaign (it’s the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation now), his announcement signaled much-needed relief for California taxpayers, whose overstretched, scandal-prone prison system was screaming for an overhaul.
But three years later, California maintains the second-highest prison population in the country (171,444 in January 2008) and the highest recidivism rate (a staggering 70 percent).
From the start, people familiar with the embattled prison system were skeptical. “Everybody’s going to get new business cards and letterheads,” said Lance Corcoran, vice president of the powerful California Correctional Peace Officers Association, “but we haven’t changed with respect to providing inmates anything different.”
[For the remainder of this article, go here to AlterNet.]