In a recent op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle, “Prisons can’t afford to cut rehabilitation funds,” Harriet Salarno, President of Crime Victims United, and Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance (Los Angeles County) clearly show the disastrous affect budget cuts to rehabilitation programs will have on California’s public safety.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation plans to cut $250 million of its $600 million rehabilitation program and to lay off 600 to 900 educational and vocational prison instructors. Without rehabilitation programs, more inmates are likely to re-offend, creating even more crimes and even more victims. California already has a 70 percent recidivism rate. The department should be working towards improving rehabilitation programs rather than making cuts to them.
In California’s current economic climate, we must assess the fiscal and societal impact of every policy and reevaluate our priorities. The fact is that, while we cut the rehabilitation programs that can actually prevent future crimes, we continue to spend millions of dollars each year on a completely broken and ineffectual death penalty system. If we replaced the death penalty with permanent imprisonment, we would save one billion dollars over the next five years. That’s one billion dollars that could be spent, not only, on rehabilitation for inmates, but also on violence prevention, intervention for at-risk youth, state crime labs, and DNA testing – all of which actually make our communities safer.
“It's sad commentary on our state's priorities when we callously place money above people's lives,” Salarno and Lieu say.
It’s also a sad commentary on our state’s priorities when we misuse the limited public safety resources we do have.
The death penalty is a disservice to victims and to our communities. It’s time to replace the death penalty with permanent imprisonment.
Posted in Blog, CCV/Victims
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Comment by Stefanie, Feb 19th, 2010 10:00am
I thought the op-ed by Salarno and Lieu was very insightful. I'm glad to seem them thinking outside the box on the issue by recognizing that rehabilitation programs may have some upfront costs but can save money for the state and local agencies in the long run.