PAMPHLETS FOR A BETTER HUMANKIND Addressing The Micro- And Macro-Problems Facing Humankind, And Providing Achievable Solutions; Going Where The Politically Correct Dare Not. (While the SOLUTION offered herein may not be a panacea, and may be provocative, it is offered as a positive step to correct the problem presented.)
CALIFORNIA TAXPAYERS SUBSIDIZE PRISON VIOLENCE
David Scott Harrison, (c)
Like killer whales feeding on seals, the costs of prison violence -- inmates on inmates, and inmates on staff -- tear away huge chunks of the California Department Of Corrections And Rehabilitation's ("CDC&R") annual budget. It is estimated that every year between seven- and ten-million dollars of the CDC&R's budget goes to pay costs directly resulting from prison violence including, but not limited to, injuries, ambulance services, life-saving surgical procedures, hospital stays, costs relating to lives taken, staff time off due to assaults and staff overtime to cover for those vacant work positions, inflated hazard pay for staff during such emergencies and lock-downs, investigations, transfers of inmates involved in violent acts, and myriad other expenditures directly resulting from each violent incident. While it appears that the CDCR absorbs the costs of such violence, in fact it is the taxpayers of California who ultimately subsidize prison violence.
Take, for example, the daily violent act of one inmate stabbing another. The injured inmate is rushed by ambulance to the local hospital where doctors work to save the inmate's life. Recovery, in our example, requires a four day hospital stay, which itself requires staff to guard over the inmate. Medications are prescribed. A month later the inmate is returned to the hospital to be examined by the doctor, adding additional transportation and medical costs to the tab. Usually, both inmates involved in the incident are transferred to other prisons, adding even more costs. The CDCR is a corpulent and prodigal bureaucracy, but if she does nothing else, she does her paperwork. Every cost directly resulting from the stabbing incident, easily topping five-thousand dollars, is accounted for, totaled, and able to be assessed to the perpetrator.
State law requires the sentencing courts of California to order fines and restitution against persons convicted of crimes so as to recoup some portion of the costs those persons exact upon the legal system and ultimately, again, California taxpayers. The CDCR vigorously enforces collection by affixing HOLDS onto an inmate's personal Trust Account in the amount of any fines and/or restitution, then skimming 55% from the inmate's wages and all moneys coming into his Trust Account as payment towards the HOLDS. No exceptions. But when it comes to the costs of prison violence -- no less directly related to an individual's conduct than that which resulted in fines and restitution -- the CDCR gives the violent prisoner a free ride, all expenses paid. That gross inconsistency takes a killer whale sized bite out of every dollar the State wrests from her taxpayers, and simply makes no sense because just as with the collection of fines and restitution, the CDCR has the mechanism in place to assess the costs of prison violence against the inmate(s) responsible and to collect those costs.
THE SOLUTION: At the Disciplinary Hearing, should the perpetrator be found guilty of the charged offense, his Trust Account would be immediately frozen so that he can not spend any moneys. Within one-hundred-twenty days all costs relating to his violent act would be known and totaled. The inmate would be given an accounting of the costs, and formal notice of the total amount secured as a "VIOLENCE HOLD" against his Trust Account, to be collected in like-fashion as all other HOLDS. At the time of service upon the inmate of the accounting and securing of the VIOLENCE HOLD, the Trust Account would be unfrozen. Mandatory sanctions upon a finding of guilt at the Disciplinary Hearing would further include the inmate:
- being prohibited from purchasing vendor packages of any kind (excepting two purely religious packages per year);
- would not be allowed to own or possess any entertainment devise (e.g., radio, C/D or tape player, TV, etc.); and
- would suffer the loss of contact visits; all sanctions would remain until such time as the entire amount of the VIOLENCE HOLD is paid. A VIOLENCE HOLD would be subordinate to prior HOLDS, e.g., fines and/or restitution and/or Violence Holds already secured against the inmate's Trust Account.
Criminal misconduct has direct financial costs to the taxpayers of California, which courts and the CDCR attempt to offset by ordering fines and restitution, and securing HOLDS against an inmate's Trust Account, respectively. It is time the legislators of California enact a law that requires the CDCR to collect from an inmate the costs directly resulting from that inmate's violent acts inside prison walls and fences, thus taking the burden of such costs off the CDCR, and ultimately the taxpayers of California (NOTE: The argument could be made that the CDCR already has the authority to collect from inmates the costs of prison violence. If that is correct, however, then why does the CDCR continue to give violent prisoners a free ride, thus leaving it to California taxpayers to subsidize prison violence?).