Ironically -- or, should I say, tragically -- just two days after the court's edict to release 33,000 California inmates, the Los Angeles Times reported that a computer glitch had prompted California prison officials to mistakenly release about 450 inmates with "a high risk for violence." To add insult to injury, more than 1,000 additional prisoners who possess a high risk of committing drug crimes, property crimes and other offenses were released. No efforts have been made to return any of these criminals behind bars.
While overcrowding and fiscal shortfalls prompt state lawmakers across the country to compromise harsher laws for criminals, I believe that only strictly enforcing law and order will promote deterrence and reduce crimes (and hence incarceration numbers). America's prisons, like our borders, need more reinforcement, not more laxity -- a fact that leads me to pose a possible better solution than the Supreme Court's allowance of inmates being released back into California cities.
Could it be merely coincidental that over the past two decades of California's liberal approach to border control, the state's prison population and economic status have gone down the tubes?
Here are a few statistics that should be entered into this debate:
In 2005, Heather Mac Donald, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, testified before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security that nearly 25 percent of inmates in California detention centers are Mexican nationals here illegally. If that's true, that number alone exceeds 30,000 illegals in California's prison system.
Moreover, a 2004 report from the Federation for American Immigration Reform concluded that the education, health care and incarceration of illegal aliens cost Californians $10.5 billion per year. That's $1,183 annually for every household.
And who can doubt that those figures have increased significantly in the past seven years?
So my question is this: What would the effects be on California's economy and prison population, immediately and in the future, if the illegal immigrants (Mexicans and others) were actually deported? Why can't that "solution" be considered as at least a remedy for the Golden State's economic and incarceration problems?
And if you assume that deportation costs would surpass costs of prisoner release within the state, compare the price of a plethora of one-way bus and plane trips of illegal immigrants with the years of continual costs to human life, property and our courts brought about by 30,000 criminals released on California streets and repeat offenders being re-incarcerated.
To me, it looks as if Californians have a big battle and choice on their hands, which I believe will cross state lines and turn into similar struggles in other states. Do Californians want 33,000 criminals back on their streets or roughly the same number of prisoners who are illegal immigrants deported back to their own countries?
Contact your local representatives and tell them your answer.