‘A Day Off For Each Day Served’
A victims’ rights leader urges California to do a better job of rehabilitating offenders to improve public safety.
State officials should use stiff penalties and adequately funded rehabilitation programs in order to curtail criminal activity and keep Californians safe, writes Harriet Salarno, chair of Crime Victims United of California (CVUC).
“Who will decide which crimes are not ‘important’ or ‘serious’ enough to mandate prison time, or to justify parole revocation?”
Salarno said she believes policymakers should draft rules that reward inmates for participating in educational programs, prison jobs and restitution programs. She supports allowing sentence reduction credits that give inmates one day off for each day served.
In a brochure titled A Renewed Commitment to Public Safety in California, she said she also supports creating a bi-partisan sentencing commission to recommend new guidelines to the state Legislature.
To resolve prison overcrowding, CVCU suggests re-opening four prisons previously shut down, expanding bed space at existing institutions, and building new prison facilities with fully funded evidence-based programs. The new strategy would also reform the parole system, and concentrate more resources on re-entry.
“Who will decide which crimes are not ‘important’ or ‘serious’ enough to mandate prison time, or to justify parole revocation?” she said. “Will these decisions take public safety and crime prevention into consideration, or be purely financial?”
CVCU said the Three-Strikes Law “has prevented two million crimes since 1994,” noting from the first half of 2005 to the first half of 2006, “violent crime increased 4.1 percent, and more than half of California inmates are serving time for crimes against persons.”