Pubdate: Tue, 25 May 1999 
Source: Bakersfield Californian (CA)
Copyright: 1999, The Bakersfield Californian.
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 destination.

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

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, Bakersfield

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