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Prison Reform: Put Gov. Davis on Notice

January 30, 2003

Prison reform seems to make sense to every rational person except our governor ("Correctional System Needs Correcting," Commentary, Jan. 26). You'd think that the ever-expanding budget gap would compel him to seek out cost-saving alternatives, but instead he proposes even more spending on corrections. It's no big secret that Gov. Gray Davis has been made possible thanks to a generous contribution from the California Correctional Peace Officers Assn., which surely has a lot to show for its money in the way its budget was largely spared by the administration.

In the meantime, billions of dollars get filtered through the Department of Corrections, and all taxpayers have to show for them is inmates coming out of prison more violent than when they went in, with little money left to spend on the true deterrents to crime: education and social services. It is high time the governor and others who push the "lock-em-up" mentality were put on notice: Taxpayers can no longer afford to keep nonviolent inmates incarcerated just to benefit the few who profit, most notably the folks at the California Department of Corrections.

Sandra Austin-Herwerth

Los Angeles

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