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California's Three Strikes Law

While visiting my girlfriend who is serving 50 years to life under the three strikes law for 1.26 grams of meth and receiving stolen property ("a note book"), I asked her about other inmates she knows serving under the three strikes law. I was surprised to find many were just like Lisa—they had little or no family, and no money for an attorney. I had to wonder if this profile was what the D.A.s office and parole officers look for when they choose to use the three strikes law. Lisa had relapsed using drugs while on parole. She was turned in by another parolee who was facing a child molestation charge. In turn, he was given probation and she was given life. I wonder if the choice was in the interest of justice, or just to fill prisons. It seems a child molester is a greater threat than a drug user that has fallen off the wagon.

Francis Courser
Escondido, CA

posted April 22, 2002

Ex Parte For-Profit Forfeiture Statutes

American RadioWorks and Minnesota Public Radio receive my vote for exposing the corrupt side of our criminal justice system, and for offering victims an opportunity to fight back, through knowledge of the wrongdoing.

I am an attorney representing victims of prosecutorial abuse, and have posted on my "forfeiture" Web site the legal forms which victims and their attorneys can use to fight the corruption, including a request for a special prosecutor to replace (and hopefully indict) the errant prosecutor.

This Web site is at Also, see my two other websites on prosecutorial abuse, and

Once again, let us thank American RadioWorks and Minnesota Public Radio for standing up and being counted!

Carl E. Person
Civil Rights Attorney
New York, NY

posted May 8, 2002

Releasing Aging Prisoners

Dear Producers:

Thank you for your work on Corrections, Inc. I will be steering my students to the Corrections, Inc. Web site (in the concluding part of my current class in the Sociology of Corrections). Well done!

Here's a related topic that deserves some attention:

Arguably, prisoners over 50 are the fastest growing segment of the prison population. Like most of us, their health costs rise after 50, increasing prison budgets. In the abstract to one piece that I've written, I predict that there will be a massive decarceration after 2010, financially driven, as aging prisoners compete with civilian baby boomers for health care dollars that will take up a ballooning share of state budgets. The entire article is available upon request.

Prison officials are well aware of this, yet it is such a political time bomb that it remains under recognized and discussed.

Thanks again.


Dion Dennis
Visiting Assistant Professor
Texas A& M University - Kingsville
System Center San Antonio


posted April 22, 2002

Three Strikes?

The logic goes like this: We've had this individual in the criminal justice system twice. We've done such a bangaroo job of correcting anti-social behavior that this person is now unfit to live in our society. The fact that the prisons are full of repeat offenders shows that the system really works! Our repeated failure is the benchmark for success. We all have a vested interest in perpetuating a failed criminal justice policy. Otherwise, we'd have to admit we were the biggest dumb asses that ever lived!

Name Withheld
Oklahoma City, OK

posted April 18, 2002

Big Bucks Made on Local Jails

Local companies get very excited when a local county gets sued and has to build or add onto the local jail.

Local architects overprice the facility because they get a percentage of the total cost.

Local contractors and labor unions look at the project as a cash cow and demand that the local politicians hire local companies even if they have no experience in building jails.

One case I worked on had local architects proposing that the project would be $40+ million. The County Commissioners hired me to help them select the best architect and the result was a jail remodel and addition that came in at $8.3 million.

I got paid about $15,000 over a four year period.

Dr. Steve Smith, Corrections Consultant
Ft. Wayne, IN

posted April 18, 2002

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