A panel of three federal judges is now considering whether to order the immediate release of almost a third of all California criminal inmates, because one of those judges has found the health care for inmates to be “unconstitutional.” This is despite the fact that California spends about three times as much on health care per inmate as it does on health care per citizen on the outside. The judge-created crime wave may occur if bankrupt California doesnt spend an extra $8 billion on inmate health care.
That may sound impossible or irrational. But it is real.
The facts for this article, but not all of the legal conclusions, come from an article on TownHall,com on 15 December, 2008. It concerns a hearing which could result in dumping 52,000 criminals on the streets of California, not because they had completed their sentences, or had their convictions reversed. No, they would be released because three federal judges wanted the remaining prisoners to “get better health care” than the health care that law-abiding, tax-paying citizens receive.
You read that right. Three federal judges are now considering whether to order bankrupt California to spend an additional $8 billion on prisoners health care, or in the alternative, to release almost one third of the prisoners now incarcerated in that state.
While the article doesnt indicate whether the ACLU is involved in this instance, the past history of ACLU prisoners “rights” cases makes clear that it would support this effort to either force more taxpayers dollars into the prison system, or let the prisoners out on the street.
This so-called civil rights case, in which the taxpayers will probably also be required to pay the lawyers for the prisoners, had a 2005 decision by a single federal judge (who is part of this three-judge panel, by the way) that Californias prisoners health care system was “unconstitutional.” Therefore, he ordered the system into receivership and appointed a law professor to run it.
The law professor has now demanded an additional $8 billion, or the release of 52,000 prisoners. How bad is the health care system?
The prisons NOW spend about $14,000 annually per inmate on health care. For the citizens of California who are law-abiding and tax-paying, the state spends about $4,600 per citizen. It may have been a bit hasty to refer to the outsiders as citizens who obey the law and pay taxes, since California is providing free health care to a significant number of citizens of Mexico who are in the US illegally.
In any event, prisoners receive about three times as much per person financial support for their health care as do non-inmates. And what are the results of the current “unconstitutional” health care?
According to the article, inmates have a much higher life expectancy in prison than they do after they are released. They even have a greater life expectancy than all civilians in the outside world. This study was done in Washington State, but the base number, life expectancy of inmates in prison, was nearly the same in California as in Washington.
So, even if the approach of the lawyers and judges who have taken over the health care part of the California prisons was to improve the care of inmates so they live longer, it is a gross failure.
And that is without even considering the assaults, robberies, rapes and murders that 52,000 early-released inmates will cause in California. Most prisoners are recidivists. Those in prison for sexual crimes or crimes based on drug addiction are most prone to new crimes of the same type.
Every judge and lawyer in California who can read and write and think knows that the immediate release of 52,000 prisoners would unleash a tidal wave of crime on California. And yet, in this case, three judges and a handful of lawyers are seriously considering starting such a crime wave.
This is yet another example of why it is wrong for unelected federal judges to steal from the elected officials of a city or state the power to make public policy judgments on behalf of the citizens who elect them.
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