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Letters: Crowding out justice in prisons

April 16, 2013
  • To reduce prison overcrowding, local facilities like L.A. County's Men's Central Jail are being used.
To reduce prison overcrowding, local facilities like L.A. County's… (Los Angeles Times )

Re "Brown vows fight over prisons," April 13

Federal courts have found the overcrowding and inmate healthcare in California's prisons intolerable, even though Gov. Jerry Brown says officials are "doing the best job possible." Maybe they're both right and it's the justice system itself that is beyond correction and rehabilitation.

Our high-imprisonment system has taken decades to build. It has been fed by harsher sentences without regard for recidivism or public safety; guilty pleas extorted from low-level offenders under pressure from multiple charges that carry long prison terms; the addiction of law enforcement and elected officials to the war on drugs; and released offenders who can't get a job or the public assistance they need to live.

Any advance toward creating a justice system based on public safety rather than punitive tough talk would serve us all.

Joseph Maizlish

Los Angeles

How will all those ex-cons the federal courts have ordered released from prison find work? Where will they live?

I had my own experience with a "white-collar criminal" who, as many do, found Internet dating sites to be ripe with women eager to meet a potential mate. Of course, parolees tend to have more pressing concerns than love, asking for a few dollars or suggesting an overnight that turns into a free roof.

I was lucky. My ex-con shared his plight up front in his attempt at redemption. I was able to observe his fight for existence. I learned where ex-cons clean up, where they find food and how little the government helps them.

Not every ex-con comes out with the resources of a Michael Milken.

Patricia Wood



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