As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Judge To WATB Lawmakers: You Failed On Prisons, Now Deal With It

John Myers reports that US District Judge Thelton Henderson just ordered up a big glass of STFU for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown.

The federal judge who took control of California prison health care some three years ago rejected a request today to scrap the court-appointed receivership.

U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson denied a petition from Governor Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown to replace the receivership with the more limited powers of a special master.

The 24-page ruling from Henderson is probably best summarized by the following passage:

"Based on the entire record in this case, the Court is far from confident that Defendants [the state] have the will, capacity, or leadership to provide constitutionally adequate medical care in the absence of a receivership, and Defendants have presented no evidence to the contrary."

Schwarzenegger, Brown, and the entire political establishment in Sacramento have had plenty of chances to show their commitment to solving the prison crisis over the past 30 years, and they have miserably, utterly failed. They want to hide from those failures because they don't want to pay to meet their obligations to prisoners under the US Constitution. And of course, the Administration plans to appeal the ruling, because they can't admit their own failure.

Good to see that Henderson didn't fall for the coordinated swiftboating of Clark Kelso. Maybe now we can talk about cost-effective reforms that make sense instead of a fealty to "tough on crime" logic and a shrinking from obligations as a public servant.

(By the way, I highly recommend Adam Serwer's article about prison reform, citing Kansas as a case study in how to drive down recidivism, provide economic opportunity for those coming out of the corrections system and save money all at once.)

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