California’s overcrowded prisons; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to Congress; praising school librarians
I would be happy to see the release of the thousands now incarcerated for nonviolent crimes such as possession of marijuana or cocaine. I do not see them as a threat. If, for much lower cost, they receive drug treatment, education and job training in the community and are allowed to freely participate in society, most will become law-abiding, productive Americans.
That most nonviolent “drug offenders” in prison are African American or Latino reflects not the prevalence of drug use but the way the “war on drugs” has been focused on those communities. Current policies created a class of permanently stigmatized Americans labeled as “felons.”
Let’s end the unjust mass incarceration frenzy of the last 30 years. There is a better way.
With a prison population grossly exceeding the system’s design capacity, with a prison director (from Texas, of all places) describing California jails as “appalling” and “inhumane,” and with the Supreme Court finding inhumane conditions, it is beyond laughable that state Senate GOP Minority Leader Bob Dutton’s response is to accuse Democrats of “looking for any excuse they can to try to have more taxes.”
Instead of cheap shots, how about demonstrating real leadership and proposing a socially and fiscally sound solution to this shameful situation?
Instead of releasing prisoners or transferring them to city and county jails, California should ask Arizona’s Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio for advice. California has plenty of desert space, and putting up tents and fencing would be far cheaper than building new prisons. People have to remember that prisoners are there to be punished, not coddled.
Take away the televisions, radios and telephones, and bring out the pink underwear.
I read with incredulity the Supreme Court decision requiring California to release huge numbers of prisoners due to overcrowding and poor conditions.
In these trying times, we hardly have the luxury to worry more about the comfort of our prison population over the needs of our student population. It is frightening to imagine the damage this decision will do to our education budgets and our safety.
Perhaps the courts and the ACLU can pursue relief for California students and teachers who suffer in overcrowded, overburdened and understaffed public schools.
After all, aren’t our conditions equally as “egregious and extreme”?
To appease everyone who is against releasing more than 33,000 prisoners, I suggest the following compromise: Grant early release to nonviolent, first-offense inmates with the stipulation that any future felony conviction comes with a mandatory two- to five-year additional sentence resulting from a violation of early release.
Expanding this program to other prisoners, such as those entering the final year of a longer sentence, would further reduce crowding and save the state millions.
Those who are not a threat to society are much more likely to stay out of trouble with the threat of increased prison time.
Netanyahu’s vision of peace
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before Congress was greeted with thunderous applause and standing ovations as he laid out his “very generous” plan with “painful compromises.”
I can understand why Congress was so impressed with Netanyahu’s generosity. After all, the painful compromises include shutting off Palestinian refugees from reclaiming their homes in Israel, firmly claiming an undivided Jerusalem as the Jewish state’s capital and keeping Israeli forces along the Jordan River.
Congress understands the sacrifices Israel is making by not claiming that the remainder of the West Bank also should be subject to permanent occupation and the construction of any number of new settlements.
These 1967 borders that the Arab world is treating as sacred — would these be the same borders that the Arabs tried to breach in 1967 to destroy Israel?
The Palestinian position that certain conditions have to be met before they will come back to the negotiating table also reminds one of 1967 when, after losing the West Bank, Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula, the Arab states’ position was the famous “three no’s” — no peace, no recognition and no negotiation.
Apparently, the Arab nations never got the memo that when you launch multiple wars of annihilation against another country and lose them all, you don’t get to dictate the terms of a peace settlement.
Books come from libraries
Those who think school libraries are obsolete might consider the results of a 2010 Scholastic-Gates Foundation poll given to 40,000 teachers. One question asked where students get books for their independent reading most often. The winner: school libraries. Teachers reported that 80% of high school students, the group least dependent on school libraries, get reading material from school libraries.
Will e-books take over? To compete with the library as a source of books, e-book readers and e-books need to get cheap enough for everyone to be able to buy, use and replace them. Amazon.com’s Kindle costs more than $100 and e-books about $10, and there are restrictions on sharing.
Little wonder that only a small portion of adults, mainly affluent ones, read e-books.
The writer is a professor emeritus of education at USC.
Thank you for Hector Tobar’s columns on librarians and their importance. Those who would do away with school librarians are equivalent to those who say books are obsolete.
Arcadia officials would be better off applying critical thinking regarding the superstitious fear of the number four by many Chinese.
By changing address numbers to accommodate this irrational belief in numerology, society drifts further from Enlightenment ideals of science and reason.
The real numbers that officials should pay attention to are those of Arcadia City Councilman Roger Chandler, who pointed out that several thousand houses have the number four on them; he is against restarting the program of number changing with its unknown costs and confusing, non-linear addresses.
Let’s not retreat to the Dark Ages and fall for every superstition that comes along.
It would be helpful if The Times had a better working definition of “greenwashing.”
I was dismayed to see the example of hotels not washing linens every day dismissed as greenwashing just because it saves money. If this level of conservation were actually put into practice, it would be a huge savings of water and electricity, the two main targets of most environmental conservation programs.
And yes, conservation can and does save money.
A cure for the common opinion
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