California Dems Tell Criminals: Go Ahead!
Gee, what kind of bills would those be? The kind that take criminals off the street? Good guess:
Linking years of tough-on-crime politics with the prison overcrowding crisis, the chairwoman of a key state Senate committee said Tuesday she would not allow any legislation aimed at increasing criminal sentences through her committee until lawmakers and the governor agree on corrections reforms.Another of the bills that will be held would increase the statute of limitations for manslaughter charges -- it's a bill Incredible Wife and I were hoping would pass, even though the chances in the Dem-dominated Sacramento statehouse. The killer (manslaughterer) of the son of some friends walked because charges were filed 12 days after the current statute of limitations.
Sen. Gloria Romero said she would hold until 2008 all bills in the Senate Public Safety Committee that she said could add to overcrowded prisons. Three bills were placed on hold, including one that would have added a five-year sentence enhancement for anyone convicted of kidnapping or some sex offense while impersonating a police officer. (SF Chronicle)
The Dems say they're holding the bills because "Looking tough on crime isn't really worth much when we can't really protect the public safety,'' according to Romero. She's talking about an upcoming hearing by three judges who could order a federal take-over of CA prisons of they deem them to be overcrowded.
So what? Should the judges decide to cap California prison populations below current levels or sieze the prisons, that decision will be made by the time these new laws would go into effect, so the new prisoners would be a federal problem, not a state problem. Romero's blowing smoke -- trial attorney smoke.
The review of California prisons and request for a population cap was forced by lawyers representing inmates with disabilities and medical and mental health problems. Prisons are not cushy enough to for these lawyer's clients.
The Dems could stop taking money from trial attorneys. Sure -- the day trail attorneys stop being the number one donors to California Dem candidates.
The Dems could start building prisons, but that would mean more people could be incarcerated, and Dems worry deeply about having too many people (i.e., criminals) in prison.
So instead, they hold up bills that are tough on crime, causing Modesto GOP Sen. Dave Cogdill to say:
"Today [Wednesday] the Democrats in the Senate Public Safety Committee sent a resounding message to criminals throughout the state, 'Commit crimes and don't worry; our prisons are so overcrowded, we haven't built sufficient facilities, and we can't house you.'"