Friday, October 29, 2010

No on Measure S

If we build it, they will fill it.  That's the slogan that says it all.  Some of you will go into the polls buying into the dogma that we need a new jail.  Granted there are some problems with the current situation, but spending tens of millions of dollars to increase, dramatically, the number of jail bunks is not the way to go.  As any proud liberal would, I would urge that we spend the same money on the public schools, job training, mental health services and drug rehabilitation.  If we did, we wouldn't need to boost our penal system.  We would be a better, more productive and more utopian society.  We wouldn't have to warehouse our fellow community members, and pretend as though that actually solves any problem.  Incarceration may prevent the rare act of violence by a dangerous person, and act as a deterrent of crime for those of us who fear going to jail, but it creates as many problems as it solves.  Jail should be a place for violent people who are not mentally ill, and that is a very small population; well beneath the number of jail beds that are currently available.  And this is the point:  If we have more jail beds to fill, the authorities will fill them up fast; guaranteed.  People will be going to jail, and serving longer sentences, for the pettiest of crimes.  I used to work in as a public defender in Santa Cruz, a place where there were many more jail beds per capita.  There, as compared to Santa Barbara, people frequently went to jail for misdemeanors such as driving on a suspended drivers license for lengthy periods.  In other words, the County would do the dirty work for the DMV and take what were very often poor people on their way to work and throw them in the slammer for six months to a year.  I don't know about you, but I would rather not pay to house such people.  Nor do I particularly want to live in a community where we treat our fellow human being in such a cruel and unforgiving fashion.  
If you doubt my motive/agenda at all, consider that when people start facing longer jail sentences, my services will be in much higher demand.  I stand to economically benefit if the measure passes.  I would rather it didn't.