Pubdate: Sun, 06 May 2001
Source: Orange County Register (CA)
Address: P.O. Box 11626, Santa Ana, CA 92711
Contact:  2001 The Orange County Register
Fax: (714) 565-3657
Author:  Vivian Moen, Fountain Valley, CA


Regarding the editorial, "MODIFYING THREE STRIKES" on May 1:  The war on 
drugs warehouses drug users.  This punitive policy weighs heavy on the 
taxpayer and is a failure.

California has about 163,000 prisoners and more than 3,000 non-violent 
offenders have been sentenced under the "Three Strikes" law. Approximately 
700 were sentenced for minor drug possession to a minimum of 25 years to 
life at a cost of $27,000 a year.  On the other hand, drug treatment costs 
about $5,000.

Prisons do not offer much in the way of rehabilitation, education, 
vocational training or drug treatment.  Wouldn't you think these tools 
would help prisoners gain a successful life?

I hear again and again that drug abuse leads to crime.  If our politicians 
and law enforcement departments are aware of this, then why are they not 
insisting on rehabilitation instead of more prisons and prison guards?  The 
recidivism rate in California is 77 percent. What is wrong with this picture?

Since 1982 we have built 21 prisons and one university. Californians were 
told that the three-strikes law was for violent crime.  We did not read the 
fine print to understand that non-violent offenders would be sentenced to a 
minimum of 25 years to life with "any" third felony.  Many misdemeanors are 
enhanced to a felony under this law. AB 1652 will amend the three-strikes 
law so that minor drug possession would not be a strike.  Isn't it time we 
look for solutions that build people and not prisons?

Vivian Moen
Fountain Valley, CA
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