Tuesday, June 9, 2009

California's Budget Crisis Continues

An interesting perspective from Assembly-member Jim Beall, Jr. in Campbell Times (June 2009, page 19):

The state's biggest cost driver is prisons. The prison budget has doubled in the past decade to $10 billion. The state has 173,000 inmates, which is roughly equivalent to locking up everyone in the city of Ontario [California]. We spend roughly $45,000 on each prisoner, which is just about what it costs to send a student to Yale. Yet, California has a 70 percent recidivism rate...what we are doing now isn't working...

The state's 2009-2010 revenue is chiefly derived from personal income taxes accounting for almost half--49 percent; sales and use taxes make up 34.6 percent; corporation taxes represent 10.7 percent; the rest come from a myriad number of sources.

Two thoughts:

1. The war on drugs is bankrupting the state. The state spends huge sums jailing thousands of drug addicts.

2. The pro-law-enforcement mentality post-9-11 may have caused D.A.s to prosecute more non-violent offenders, knowing juries would be more fearful of anyone suspected of a crime.

To be or not to be a libertarian--more Californians should be asking themselves this question.

More on California's problems here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm not a libertarian by any means. However, I agree with you. Stop locking up drug offenders. We don't lock up chronic cigarette smokers, alcoholics or the morbidly obese. They are all abusers. Yet, they are treated differently than drug users. This is unfair. Drug use should be deemed to be a non-criminal private matter.

Secondly, we need to repeal the "three strikes you're out" law. It's ridiculous to sentence a person twenty-five years to life for a crime like stealing pizza. It's a waste of the taxpayers' dollars. And in the future, our prisons will be nothing more than old-age homes populated with folks who have committed petty crimes.

This is bad policy. We need to wisely conserve our tax dollars and focus on the real criminals. Those who commit violent acts like rape and murder should be in prison.