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State's Choices Lock Us Into Exorbitant Expense

May 07, 2003

Reading "A Life Sentence of Expense" (May 5), I was horrified by the amount of money being spent on Steven Martinez's care. I was appalled, not because it was being spent on the care of one who committed a heinous crime but because some truly pertinent issues were never addressed in the article. Shouldn't California be looking at -- especially with the budget in its current state -- whether its recent staffing reductions in level-of-care positions will continue to result in improper supervision, subsequent injuries and the ultimate increased cost of care for those living in state facilities? Reduced money for training of staff or recruitment of competent professionals will only exacerbate the problem.

Maybe the focus should be on preventing anything like this from happening. Putting adequate levels of competent staff in the state facilities, holding them accountable and monitoring them closely may be expensive, but someone should do the math. Thirty prisoners costing $8 million each over the length of their incarceration does not seem a wise decision. Couldn't that money be better spent?

Tricia Barnhard

Huntington Beach


"Davis Finds 'No Good Choices' in Slicing Budget" (May 4) and your story on Martinez are related. The early release of nonviolent prisoners ("I'm not going there," aides recalled Gov. Gray Davis saying) and the release of totally incapacitated inmates to save money would go against the wishes of the guards union to maintain high prison occupancy and their jobs.

It is a clear choice for Davis to honor political contributions.

Dave English

Rancho Palos Verdes

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