Freeing Criminals | Teen Ink

Freeing Criminals

August 7, 2010
By kread18 DIAMOND, Berkeley, California
kread18 DIAMOND, Berkeley, California
65 articles 0 photos 33 comments

In today’s society, strange decisions are being made that would not have been imagined just a few years ago. The time when people said they believed in something and actually followed through with it is slowing dissipating.

Lately proposals have been made in order to solve California’s falling economy, some of which go back on laws the state has made in the past. In order to save the state some money, a plan has been proposed by Governor Schwartzenegger to release non-violent, low-risk prisoners early in response to California’s prison over-crowding. These convicts would not be serving their full terms, going back on the court conviction that placed them there in the first place.
Simply releasing these criminals is taking the easy way out of the issues of overcrowding and the falling economy. It is a necessity that the state takes a more creative approach to the problem, and discovers a more morally just way to solve these issues. But the question which arises in the minds of most Californians is: will releasing these convicts actually save money?

According to the federal court ruling, counties argue that they do not have enough funding to provide released prisoners with appropriate programming for reentry into the community. This means that these criminals will be released into a society in which they will have a hard time becoming active members, leading them away from being productive members in solving California’s deficit, and towards a continued life of crime.

Another factor is public safety. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, of the nearly 300,000 people released from prisons in 15 States in 1994, nearly 68% were rearrested for a felony or serious misdemeanor within 3 years. The recidivism rate not only reflects the fact that these offenders continue a life of crime, but that after the first offence the second and third become more violent. Today’s drug dealer could be tomorrow’s sex offender. Releasing these convicts early solves nothing because they have not learned their lesson. The cost of trying and convicting second time offenders and sending them back to prison defeats the purpose of saving money by releasing them in the first place.
The increased likelihood of released offenders being sent back to prison comes partially from California’s “Three Strikes Law,” which has the stated purpose of keeping society safe from violent criminals by creating a mandatory sentence of at least 25 years after a person’s third criminal offense. But a new study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that while this law discourages criminals from doing things like smoking pot or shoplifting, it may push others to commit more violent offenses because they feel that they have nothing to lose. While stiffer penalties increasing violent crime may seem like a paradox, after strike one, strikes two and three can come from any felony, including minor offenses. Therefore, the convicts the state releases are only going to commit more violent crimes, knowing that any crime they commit, no matter how large or small, is a strike against them.

According to, “Though the cost to build more prisons is costly, it is something that should be considered before any other option.” Transferring inmates will just cause overcrowding in other state’s prisons and will merely provide a temporary solution to the overcrowding in the California prison system.

As these arguments have made clear, the issue of releasing criminals is not only one of overcrowding or the economy, but one of morality. Do we really want California to be the kind of state that goes back on its word? Justice is justice. It’s that simple, and there’s no way around it.

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This article has 1 comment.

on Aug. 30 2010 at 12:30 am
darkangel09 GOLD, South Huntington, New York
13 articles 0 photos 64 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."-Voltaire

i agree justice is justice. but though not all none vilont offenders are going to go into a life of crime i agree California needs to find another way, some sex offenders are considered none vilont criminals and would be some of those released, and those sick people are worse then drug dealers