Predictable Prison Bill Outcome
Predictable. Almost on every level.
The budget-related measure reducing state prison spending by $524 million was approved by the Senate August 20. Predictable. All 15 Republicans voted against it – predictable — and, given the length of the debate over the already foregone conclusion of the bill’s passage, it felt like all 15 rose to speak against the bill too.
(Editor’s Note: All Republicans may well have spoken against the bill. The chief correspondent grew irritable and management mistakenly believed sustenance would resolve the issue. He was sent to lunch around 1 PM, missing the debate’s conclusion.)
Four Democratic senators voted against the bill, AB 14 3X. Why? Because they could. Only 21 votes were needed to pass the bill and there are 25 Democrats in the upper house.
The “no” votes were: Dean Florez of Hanford who is running for lieutenant governor, Ron Calderon of Montebello, Alex Padilla of Los Angeles and Lou Correa of Santa Ana. Predictable.
As of 4:30 PM, the Assembly, which must also act on the bill, had yet to debate it. Predictable.
The Senate vote was followed by the predictable, de rigeur flurry of chest-beating press releases and statements spewing outrage and dire predictions.
Senate Minority Leader Dennis Hollingsworth of Murietta offered video of his floor speech. Sen. Tom Harmon, a GOP candidate for Attorney General in 2010, issued a statement. To limit the examples to two.
A few samples from the Senate debate:
In explaining his predictable opposition, Sen. Roy Ashburn, a Bakersfield Republican, predictably said, “You cannot assure me lives will not be put at risk.”
The Senate’s budget chair, Denise Ducheny, a San Diego Democrat who, by any objective standard, has had a trying year, predictably tried to reason with her colleagues and, predictably, was largely ignored.
Ducheny explained to them, quite truthfully, that the state current policy regarding incarceration “is not working.” The bill is not about “early release,” she said, in response to GOP allegations of same, “it’s about alternative custody.”
Sen. Tony Strickland, a Simi Valley Republican and self-described “concerned father of two,” said, predictably, “If this measure becomes law, the people of California will be less safe.”
California’s vox populi will rise up and vote down these cuts, predicted Sen. George Runner, a Lancaster Republican who, given his past dabbling in placing initiatives on statewide election ballots, will probably help Californians launch a referendum against the measure. It would be predictable if he were a campaign co-chair.
True to form, the flamboyant and droll Sen. Rod Wright, a Los Angeles Democrat, said that a blind amputee incarcerated at Folsom Prison poses no threat to society and should be released.
“If you’re blind and you’ve got one leg, I’m not worried about you committing a crime,” Wright said.
And Sen. Gloria Romero, a Los Angeles Democrat who has turned indignant into high art, told her colleagues she survived a violent crime in 1995. She quoted the perpetrator’s words to her: “Give me all your money or I will blow your brains out, bitch.”
In the former, more staid Senate, some prickly member such as Newt Russell, perhaps, would object to such coarse language being used on the floor of the upper house. No objection was raised.
Romero’s daughter, who was nine at the time of the attack, underwent counseling, Romero said, in part because she “felt responsible she couldn’t prevent an attack on her mother.”
In conclusion, Romero said in a predictably graceless slap at her GOP colleagues:
“Don’t tell me when I stand up and call for reforms in our prison system that I am soft on crime.”
Instead, she urged the Republican senators who she had just figuratively poked in the eyes, to, predictably, “Be smart on crime.”
Rather than tough. Get it?
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