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Crime: Trying to Improve Penal System

At the Harbor Area Town Hall meeting on April 20 at the Doubletree Hotel in San Pedro, representatives of the district attorney’s office, of Sheriff Sherman Block’s office and two judges from the San Pedro Court cited lack of funding, resulting in excessive workload, as one of the major causes of an increase in crime.

The representative of the Sheriff’s Department specifically said that this nation has not shown a strong enough commitment to fighting crime with corresponding commitment of adequate funds.

We Californians are part of this nation. If my memory serves me correctly, most of the ballot measures providing funding for additional prisons or additional police passed (even when all other spending measures were voted down). So we, the voters, did allocate money to the fight against crime; but when the budget cuts were made, they were made (by our elected officials) across the board, including police, the district attorney and the courts.

At the meeting, a gentleman asked, “How about making the criminals work to help support themselves?” and he was given the trite answer that the labor unions do not want the prison system to compete with workers in the production of goods.

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Why cannot the prison inmates be put to work to grow their own food, make their clothes and whatever else they need? Why cannot the criminals convicted of nonviolent crimes be put in prison farms, prison factories, and be put to work? Why cannot the youthful offenders be put in boot camps and taught discipline, work habits and self-control, along with basic skills and a trade or a profession?

It is now time to take a new (or an older) approach to the fight against crime. The creation of boot camps has already been tried in other states and discussed here in California: Why are we not implementing it?

If legislation is required to allow convicted felons to be placed in different types of correctional facilities, what are we waiting for? Time is running out, and the officials in Sacramento and Washington must wake up to this fact.

LILLIAN CERADELLI

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San Pedro


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