Friday, February 23, 2007

Gov to Consider Early Release...Not

To get a feeling for how dangerous it is in California politics to even appear to be talking about releasing inmates from our impossibly swollen prisons, just consider that by the time I went upstairs this morning to show my wife the front page of the SF Chronicle (I like to get up early and read the paper) with a headline above the fold "GOVERNOR TO CONSIDER EARLY INMATE RELEASE", the morning public radio news was already reporting that the Governor's spokesperson denied there was any possibility at all of a release. The Chronicle story was itself based on little more than that the Governor had "said at a news conference that he was open to discussing early release for some inmates without violent histories..." (read Mark Martin's article).
Apparently interest in this possibility has been bolstered by federal studies showing a vanishing small recidivism rate for inmates over 55 (of whom California has 9,000). Yet in a state that has built its political consensus over the last quarter century through a commitment to the long term warehousing of even the most marginally dangerous felons, it is a big political risk to even be heard to contemplate release. For now, at least, too much of a risk for Governor Schwarzenegger.


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