California's bond debt now approaches $25 BILLION. Taxpayers must pay $3 billion EVERY YEAR. Now Sacramento politicians want to add more. Proposition 205 is too expensive! $700 million in bonds means a total of $1.2 BILLION in principal and interest over 25 years. As usual, taxpayers have to pay . . . and pay . . . and pay some more!
Of course we all want to be safe, but Proposition 205 will not make us safer. It just throws money at the crime problem without addressing why the crime rate has gone up. Crime is rampant due in part to government's ''war on drugs." It's similar to the Prohibition era of the 1920's. Alcohol prohibition didn't work then; it just created gangsters and shootouts in the streets. And drug prohibition doesn't work today.
Drug laws are the problem, not the solution. If drugs were legal, the price would drop and most addicts would no longer have to steal to support their habits. Without the high profit margin, drug dealers would go out of business and no longer be on the streets trying to hook kids on these substances. Finally, the violence caused by dealers fighting over territory would be eliminated. Law enforcement authorities generally agree that over 50% of prisoners are in jail due to drug-related crimes. Get rid of the drug laws and there would be no need for any new jails. Indeed, real criminals (like burglars and rapists) could serve their full sentences, instead of being released after a few days due to overcrowding. There should also be more use of house arrest and electronic monitoring of non-violent convicts.
Proponents mention the ''three strikes and you're out" law for causing more jail overcrowding. But those convicted under ''3 strikes" serve time in state prisons, not county jails. ''Three strikes" has been striking some of the wrong people. Californians want violent felons to be locked up for life.
Instead, the third strike can be any felony--and just about anything can be called a felony, even possession of a marijuana joint. This kind of legal misapplication is helping to clog our jails. Building more cells will just oil the system.
Juvenile halls don't need expanding, as many kids who are there don't need to be. Ending the drug war would go a long way to opening up space. Some youths are jailed for status offenses such as being a runaway or out after curfew. These offenses shouldn't even be illegal. These kids should be released to their parents, not locked up. All they learn in juvenile hall is how to commit violent crimes. Violent juvenile criminals should be treated the same as adults--and be allowed due process like trial by jury. They can start serving their sentences with other juveniles but at 18 they should be transferred to state prison.
We need alternatives to the present failed system. Throwing another $1.2 BILLION at it won't make our streets safer. Vote NO on Proposition 205.
DOUGLAS F. WEBB
Criminal Defense Attorney, Del Mar
Insurance Adjuster/Investigator, Pasadena