Pubdate: Thu, 26 Apr 2001
Source: Union, The (CA)
Copyright: 2001 Nevada County Publishing, Inc.
Author: Eve Hall


I read with interest the article "Prisons emptied by drug initiative."
The heading of the article implies that this has already happened;
however, the figures given in the article are speculative and hopefully
correct as we do need to send drug offenders to treatment, thus reducing
the prison population. What confuses me is the fourth paragraph, which
states "Prison officials say they need to keep building maximum security
prisons to house hard-core offenders." Why do we need more space if we
will have fewer prisoners? Wouldn't it be more sensible and economical
to increase staff, and in that way provide greater security for
hard-core offenders? From what I understand, these offenders are not
given more space within a facility, they are given less. 

We need the money that more prisons would cost to provide treatment
facilities for drug and alcohol offenders, to say nothing of the
mentally ill who are sent to prison because there is no other place for
them. Let us not repeat the mistake made in the mental health field when
the then-governor began closing their institutions in favor of community
facilities and then failed to fund them, leaving the mentally ill
patients with no resources except the streets or prison. For once, let's
do the job thoroughly and provide community treatment programs to those
for whom it is intended. 

Eve Hall, Nevada City
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