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State Penal System

April 05, 1993

I couldn't agree more with the commentary (March 22) by Vincent Schiraldi concerning our failed penal system.

Something over a dozen years ago, politicians discovered there were votes in writing tough laws and mandating tough penalties that impressed law-abiding citizens who obey the law anyway. The fact that these "get tough" measures fail to "impress" lawbreakers is beside the point. These very tough laws may in fact be contributing to the violence. In which case is an armed robber more likely to shoot the victim/witness? One in which the penalty for the robbery is six months of a one-year jail term or five years of a 10-year prison sentence?

We are, in fact, creating a huge subculture in which one's first sentence to prison is regarded as a "rite of passage."

GERALD W. SWANBECK

Palm Desert

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