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Marin, Sonoma County, CA June 5, 2012 Election
Smart Voter

California's Own Iraq --$6 Billion a year wasted

By Alex Easton-Brown

Candidate for Member of the State Assembly; District 10

This information is provided by the candidate
The Prison-Industrial Complex is out of control
Money is poison to the political system. A good example of the corrupting influence of campaign fund-raising is the prison/industrial complex. California's prison system has become our own Iraq where incredibly short-sighted legislation, based on fear and ignorance, has created a $6 billion a year monster. At $40,000 per year, per inmate, we have plenty of incentive to reintegrate the non-violent offender back into society. This is money that is taken from education.

My wife taught at San Quentin for three years when it was maximum level, going from cell to cell teaching inmates who were too dangerous to let out into a classroom. Since then our inmate population has doubled to 168,000 and is disproportionately Black and Chicano.
Six in 10 black males who don't graduate from high school will be imprisoned.

We know that the parole system is broken. We know how diversion would prevent the break-up of families. Over 500,000 children have at least 1 parent in prison. Are we really prepared to pay the social costs of taking care of these kids, of keeping them from winding up in prison? We are escalating madly toward a very unstable, dangerous society. Only a few can afford to live behind locked gates, or hire personal bodyguards. How about the rest of us?

Go down to Courtroom N at Marin Civic Center any weekday morning and watch the people, mostly poor, mostly of color, get processed through the criminal justice system. It's almost too efficient -- where everyone involved is trying to keep their numbers up. The prosecutors are trying to maximize their convictions, even on petty, trivial stuff. The Public Defenders are overloaded and have to fight hard to resist `dealing out' their clients on lesser charges, under pressure from judges who want to clear their dockets. If not, the whole system collapses. Even if it means innocent people have to plead guilty. Lurking behind this facade, are the municipalities and the county, dependent on the fines being extracted from a population least able to afford them.

What we have here is `lock-in' where everybody's vested interest is blocking innovation.
I think it's time we dump the death penalty. It doesn't work as a deterrent and it costs us too much to administer. Forget about expanding San Quentin. With 33 prisons, we are already over-built, and its urban location allows families to have frequent contact with prisoners: one of the surest paths to rehabilitation.

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ca/state Created from information supplied by the candidate: May 10, 2012 21:18
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