Los Angeles — There is an area of law and of welfare reform that is hidden from view. Year after year hundreds of thousands of dollars are tossed down the drain.
If you step into any traffic court in Los Angeles and probably elsewhere in the state, you will find that an overwhelming number of people the court is dealing with are at the bottom rung of the economic and social ladder. Here is a recent example of the unwitting, inherent discrimination of our institutions against the least able: A local traffic court sentenced a young woman to a $235 fine for failing to have a driver's license and failure to provide an appropriate baby chair for her child while driving.
She didn't have the money and was required to come back. Each time she went to court she was not able to go to school--a school designed under the GAIN program to make her employable.
What the judge didn't have the foggiest notion about was that this lady could not read well enough to pass the driver's exam. He split the punishment between her performing community service and a fine. Except she could not do community service because there was no way to find or pay for a baby-sitter. The lady was entitled to help from the county for this service only if she was attending school.
Multiply this scenario a thousand times \o7 every\f7 business day. Then multiply the costs to the county and city in handling this morass. Nothing is accomplished except the same old thing, the same old miseries and institutional blindness.
Suppose the lady had been required to continue school with good progress. Suppose the judge required her to take the driver's exam, repeatedly if necessary, to prevent future problems. Suppose the judge made this sort of order, with appropriate variations, in all of these cases? The case load would diminish by volumes.
We must develop a policy to determine the cause of various legal violations. Many of our native Americans cannot read street signs. The system has failed, has shunted aside huge chunks of our population. Many people cannot measure with a ruler or a measuring cup, do not know whether San Francisco is a city or a state. They nod knowingly when you speak to them but haven't the slightest notion what is being said.
Thus, the system continues on, apparently blind to what is real as opposed to what seems real.
I don't care about Sen. Bob Packwood's diaries. I don't care about Clinton's possible tax liability. I care about what is real and sad and yet fixable.