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February 03, 2009



Let’s set aside the question of Kelso's health care plan and look at how we got
into this mess in the first place... The politicians and people of California created it by foolishly thinking that they could punish crime away -- without giving any consideration to the ultimate cost and impossibility of such a plan.

With rehabilitation almost nonexistent – the public and politicians never
wanted to pay for that – recidivism remains at more than 66 percent. Two
out of every three people released from California prisons go back – the
highest rate in the nation. Politicians and the public thought they could
scrimp on health care, drug treatment, rehabilitation, education –
anything that might benefit the lives of inmates once they were released
because, well, they’re inmates and they deserve only the worst. Only 7
percent of inmates receive alcohol treatment, although 42 percent have a
high need for it. And only 2.5 percent of inmates who have a serious need
for drug treatment actually get it. And even for those who get treatment
in prison, aftercare programs when they’re on parole are wholly

The fact is that inmates are wards of the state and the people of the
state are responsible for their welfare – all 172,000 of them. The people
of California have volunteered to take care of as many inmates as
possible, and now they're complaining about the cost. Maybe Californians
should have thought of that before they embarked on their prison-building
binge while incarcerating as many people as possible. Since 1977, about
1,000 laws have been passed increasing penalties for all sorts of crimes.
California politicians run for office by touting how they got tough on
crime by increasing prison sentences. And the public eats it up.

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