Crimes and punishments

Re "A prison of our own making," Current, Dec. 10

Californians can see that "get tough on crime," if it means only longer sentences, is a cure worse than the disease. So, in 2000, we passed Proposition 36 for drug rehab by a large majority. Voters need to learn that "felony" nowadays means some politician trying to look tough by morphing misdemeanors -- the same petty crimes with a punishment on steroids. But putting sheep in wolves' clothing only frightens fools and increases taxpayers' costs.

REX STYZENS

Long Beach

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Joe Domanick is right on target, but our legislators and governors have ignored the experts for years and have kept the stay-the-course policies that have built the crisis in our prison system. Change will occur only when we address the two badly needed solutions that can turn this disaster around: sentencing and parole reform. Wasted tax dollars could be returned to a cost savings, making our state safer by developing sentences that fit the crimes.

FRANCIS COURSER

Escondido

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Re "Inmate is unstable; the system is just nuts," column, Dec. 10

The people threatened by schizophrenic Stephan Lilly were frightened. I know -- my mentally ill mother punched me in the jaw when I was 14 for saving her life when she tried to commit suicide. I also know that trying to explain that there are consequences for her is a wasted effort. Having her on medication in a supportive nursing home has made her easier to get along with than I have ever seen.

That sort of thing would have made a difference when my sister and I were kids. Medication. A supportive environment. Child-oriented counseling. No credit cards. Superior Court Judge Richard Goul thinks Lilly should spend 25 years to life in prison. That is not a solution.

LINDA DORAN

Pasadena

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