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Sentencing

May 13, 1987

San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein's advocacy of returning to an indeterminate sentencing law demonstrates her ignorance of its previous autocratic abuses, her all too casual dismissal of the principle that ours is a government of laws and not men, and a cynical regard toward the electorate--beat the "law and order" drum and you'll attract a vote.

Dorothea Dix (the great American prison reformist of the 19th Century) said that administrators of correctional systems should be "men of high moral character, and not subject to political appointment or manipulation." The one relic of California's indeterminate system--the Board of Prison Terms--is made up of political appointees. Frequently, their performance merely indicates they read the papers, as opposed to their own administrative guidelines. The latter they frequently ignore.

Notoriety is no basis for applying justice! Ex-felons are not refuse! Please show some courage, leadership and intelligence, Madame Mayor. Help your citizens by educating them as to how to help ex-cons become successfully reintegrated into society as taxpaying, productive citizens.

JAMES V. EMME

San Luis Obispo

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