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Crowded prisons

August 13, 2009

Re "Violence was foreseen at crowded Chino prison,"

Aug. 11

The recent riot at the California Institution for Men at Chino is a direct result of prison overcrowding, for which the major causes are clear.

California's poorly drafted "three-strikes" law imprisons many nonviolent offenders with prior convictions for decades for minor offenses.

Also, felony sentencing laws leave no discretion to the judge to modify the prison term to fit the crime, and our parole system is a self-perpetuating bureaucracy. That is, many parolees are on parole for three years for relatively minor offenses, such as petty theft with a prior theft or minor drug charges. They should be let off parole after one year, and there should be more meaningful programs for inmates so that, on release, they can find housing and employment.

Jeffrey A. Lowe

Beverly Hills

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