3 Strikes: The Real Problem with California's Prisons

Cross-posted from Calitics: the progressive community blog for California.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is pushing a new plan to build more prisons, saying that we "desperately" need new prison cells to accommodate our exploding prison population.

Saying that federal courts could seize control of California's overcrowded prisons, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday called a special legislative session on the corrections system and said the state must build more lockups soon.

Schwarzenegger urged lawmakers into action less than a week after a federal court monitor sharply rebuked him for retreating from prison reforms he had promised after taking office in 2003. Some critics called the governor's move an election-year political gimmick. (LA Times 6/27/06)

But, even with all the discussion of the prison crisis, the real cause of the problem is ignored.  

Lots, lots more on the flip...

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The madness of the US mental health 'system'

A week ago, a Fairfax County, VA detective, Vicky Armel, was killed by mentally ill teenager.

A former Post scribe writes about how she'd intervened to help his son get treatment for a mental illness when he broke into a neighbor's home.

The way the system works,

it is extremely difficult for people who are ill to get help. Instead they are being arrested for crimes they commit while they are psychotic. This is why jails and prisons have become our new asylums.

The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics has found that 300,000 inmates in jails and prisons take medications for severe mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. An additional 500,000 are on probation. Some 700,000 pass through the criminal court system each year. The largest mental facility in America is not a hospital; it is the Los Angeles County jail.


Now, prisons have powerful lobbies working on their behalf. The corrections industry and the prison unions (notably, the evil CCPOA) to name but two. The mental health lobby - not so powerful.

Where's Dorothea Dix when you need her?

And - isn't this a liberal issue?

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