Monday, March 8, 2010
Kennedy on Prisons
"Justice Anthony Kennedy spoke out against excessive prison sentences this month in California, criticizing the state's deeply misguided three-strikes law. It was a welcome message, delivered with unusual force. ... Sentences in the [US] are eight times longer than those handed out in europe, Justice Kennedy said. California has 185,000 people in prison at a cost of $32,500 each per year, he said. ... Justice Kennedy took special aim at the three-strikes law, which puts people behind bars for 25 years to life if they commit a third felony, even a nonviolent one. The law's sponsor, he said, is the correctional officers' union, 'and that is sick.' ... Under the three-strikes law, a man named Gary Ewing was sentenced to 25 years ot life for shoplifting three golf clubs from a golf pro shop. ... It's not that the court is insensitive to excessive punishments. It has repeatedly thrown them out--when they are against corporations", NYT, 16 February, 2010, link:
I believe California incarcerates about 168,000 prisoners at $62,500 each per year. That said, it's too many. Three-strikes law was imposed on convenience store thieves, who took three 75 cent candy bars. California's taxpayers can spend $62,500 a year for 25 years over a $2.25 theft! Amazing.