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'Prison or Mirage'

January 16, 1987

I read with great interest your editorial (Jan. 9), "Prison or Mirage."

The question facing the Legislature and Gov. George Deukmejian is whether or not we are going to remove "partisan" politics from our selection of a prison in Los Angeles County.

The selection of the Crown Coach site in downtown Los Angeles resulted from a three-year search by the Department of Corrections. More than 100 sites were considered, including the one in Castaic, where Sen. David Roberti (D-Los Angeles) now wants to put the prison. All the sites, except for Crown Coach, were evaluated as inadequate and improper. After the site was selected by the Department of Corrections, the state Senate approved the proposal 36-0 in 1985, with Sen. Roberti and Sen. Art Torres (D-South Pasadena) voting for the Crown Coach site.

Suddenly 1986 arrived, an election year. Mayor Tom Bradley decided he wanted the prison in Saugus, (in the Santa Clarita Valley). The Assembly, under the leadership of Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco), approved the Crown Coach site. However, when the bill returned to the Senate for concurrence in amendments, Tom Bradley's friends, David Roberti and Art Torres, decided to make the Crown Coach site a campaign issue. They succeeded in stopping the approval process, but failed miserably in turning the Hispanic community against the governor.

The election is now over and the governor has been reelected overwhelmingly. There is no further "partisan political" reasons not to locate the prison in a depressed industrial area of downtown, such as Crown Coach. In addition, we now know that there are no toxic deposits at Crown Coach and that the proposed sale price of $5 million was reasonable.

I call on some Senate Democrats to put aside partisan politics and help in the process to find a suitable prison site in downtown Los Angeles. Getting thieves, burglars and rapists off the streets is what a new downtown prison is all about.


State Senator

19th District


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