Pubdate: Tue, 25 May 1999
Date: 05/25/1999
Source: Bakersfield Californian (CA)
Author: Shirley Swope

A recent story, "Three-strikes law still debated," stated: "The law
has contributed greatly to California's dropping crime rates. ...
prison population is now eight times what it was in 1980."

Does the three-strikes law account for this increase in prison
population and the decrease in crime?

If this is true why does California need $4.1 billion to build six new
prisons? The story stated: "... in just two years, inmates will occupy
every nook and cranny of the prison system." If crime is down and
dropping, where is this increase coming from?

Who is so loudly promoting the three-strikes law and how will it
benefit them? The answer is those with the most power control policy,
even if their platforms are short-sighted, and self-motivated. Before
jumping on anyone's bandwagon, we would be wise to look into its final

Youth and Corrections Secretary Robert Presley warns, "The state must
either build more prisons or consider alternatives, such as more drug
treatment programs."

The greatest number of inmates are drug addicts; a few million dollars
spent on drug prevention and treatment could save the billions spent
on incarceration and would decrease future (children of present drug
addicts) inmate population.

Also, instead of costing taxpayers billions of dollars, addicts who
are helped to overcome drug dependency could work and contribute by
paying taxes, which could be used for more beneficial programs.

Shirley Swope,