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Crimes and punishments

December 13, 2006

Re "A prison of our own making," Current, Dec. 10

Californians can see that "get tough on crime," if it means only longer sentences, is a cure worse than the disease. So, in 2000, we passed Proposition 36 for drug rehab by a large majority. Voters need to learn that "felony" nowadays means some politician trying to look tough by morphing misdemeanors -- the same petty crimes with a punishment on steroids. But putting sheep in wolves' clothing only frightens fools and increases taxpayers' costs.

REX STYZENS

Long Beach

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Joe Domanick is right on target, but our legislators and governors have ignored the experts for years and have kept the stay-the-course policies that have built the crisis in our prison system. Change will occur only when we address the two badly needed solutions that can turn this disaster around: sentencing and parole reform. Wasted tax dollars could be returned to a cost savings, making our state safer by developing sentences that fit the crimes.

FRANCIS COURSER

Escondido

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Re "Inmate is unstable; the system is just nuts," column, Dec. 10

The people threatened by schizophrenic Stephan Lilly were frightened. I know -- my mentally ill mother punched me in the jaw when I was 14 for saving her life when she tried to commit suicide. I also know that trying to explain that there are consequences for her is a wasted effort. Having her on medication in a supportive nursing home has made her easier to get along with than I have ever seen.

That sort of thing would have made a difference when my sister and I were kids. Medication. A supportive environment. Child-oriented counseling. No credit cards. Superior Court Judge Richard Goul thinks Lilly should spend 25 years to life in prison. That is not a solution.

LINDA DORAN

Pasadena

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