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Verdicts on home detention

July 17, 2007

Re "For Baca, home is where the jail is," July 12

As a psychiatrist with long experience in correctional settings, I find it ironic that an objection to home detention is that inmates would have reduced access to healthcare and mental healthcare. The advocates' efforts would be better spent working for mental health parity and healthcare access for all individuals, rather than working to keep these people incarcerated.

While jailers have a constitutional obligation under the 8th Amendment to provide inmates with a minimum level of healthcare, with rare exception it can hardly be said that correctional entities provide the kind of healthcare that most of us would want. As it is often true that only when incarcerated do inmates obtain healthcare, perhaps the inmates on home detention could serve as a pilot group for advocates wishing to push jurisdictions toward insuring those who are unable to access health services.

ERIK ROSKES MD

Sykesville, Md.

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Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has repeatedly stated that he has the authority to release inmates after they have served only a fraction of their sentences, citing a federal court order requiring him to ease overcrowding in the county jails. However, nothing in that order specifically gives Baca the authority to override sentences imposed by Los Angeles County judges, nor does any city, county or state law give him such authority. So then, why do the judges, or the county Board of Supervisors, not question his so-called authority?

RICHARD LUBETZKY

Los Angeles

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