Wow. Talk about a stupid idea. Here’s the latest ballot initiative from Republican Kevin Mannix – you know – the “sensible spending” party?

He wants to force judges to implement mandatory prison sentences onto drug dealers, felony property offenders, and identity thieves. At first glance, it sounds reasonable. Having your identity stolen is a big deal. Having your car get broken into sucks (I know – it’s happened to me twice). And who isn’t against drug dealers?

However, this is a horrible idea for at least a couple of reasons:

First, it takes drug treatment off of the table. The overwhelming majority of property crimes are committed by addicts in order to get money to feed their addictions. It’s pretty much common knowledge that addiction is a medical issue more than it’s a criminal issue. In other words, if you want to cut down on addicts stealing things, cure the addiction. Throwing drug addicts in jail won’t do this. It will actually just make things worse. The addicts will come out as newly hardened criminals, with no prospects for employment or housing – and the addiction will be just as bad, if not worse, then when they entered the incarceration system. Locking up addicts does NOTHING to reduce crime.

Secondly, our jails are already overcrowded, and we spend way to much on incarceration. Want to know which state spends the largest part of its state budget keeping people locked up? Oregon , that’s who. And if Mannix’s crackpot idea gets voted into law, we’re looking at a 12% to 44% increase in our prison population, with a price tag of up to $200 million per year.

There’s just nothing good about this idea. Vote “no”, and urge everyone you know to do the same.

6 Comments so far

  1. Ron (unregistered) on February 29th, 2008 @ 3:59 pm

    nice post. I agree with your conclusions and point you to the latest statistics regarding the US prison population: now more than 1 in 100. Quite frankly I’m embarrassed for my country in more ways than one.

  2. Pete Best (unregistered) on February 29th, 2008 @ 4:13 pm

    I think if we just rephrase that statistic to be "99 out of 100 people in America are NOT in jail", it might make us all feel a little better. Might.

  3. morty (unregistered) on March 1st, 2008 @ 12:55 am

    Anything with the name Mannix on it needs to viewed with deep suspicion. That critique aside, even if one does not care for a bleeding heart "you can’t just lock people up argument," the rational calculus still gravitates in favor of the treatment options that Mr. Mannix seeks to eliminate.
    Judge Marcus here in Multnomah Co., along with many others, has done a great deal to advance a sentencing model based on what has a more effective track record, statistically speaking. Certainly, not all bugs have been worked out, but the goal is a more rational approach to sentencing, as opposed to a "sounds good on paper but really costs way more- hit everybody with same hammer" type approach.

    What Mr. Mannix seeks to do is to persuade people that no sworn judge here in the State of Oregon can be trusted to execute any type of responsibility when it comes to sentencing someone convicted of a crime. Which is neither fair nor true. Effective resources are stretched across the board, limiting options.

    That all said,
    speaking of law and lawmakers, didn’t you just take the bar, Mr. Tenstringesquire?

  4. Smashing. (unregistered) on March 1st, 2008 @ 7:17 am

    There is no such thing as an overcrowded jail. Stuff them in like sardines.
    I have been robbed. It is no fun. The best part is having to buy your stuff back from a pawn shop that some tweaker sold it to. The next best thing is listening to some judge explain that the thief won’t go to jail but will have to pay back has part oh his parole… two years go by and not one payment has ever come by. There should be mandatory sentences for these people. 10 years is pretty fair and would make a person think twice about doing the things they do.

  5. The Guilty Carnivore (unregistered) on March 2nd, 2008 @ 9:48 am

    Yes, turn Oregon into Texas. But even Texas – TEXAS – is getting progressive on the issue and are considering alternative rehabilitation options in lieu of incarceration.

    1 in 9 African-American males 18-35 are in jail. Saying 8 of every 9 isn’t in jail makes me feel not one bit better, however.

    It’s easy to incarcerate. Managing the aftermath is what’s difficult.

  6. elgordo on March 3rd, 2008 @ 10:00 am

    Mr. Smashing just forfeited his privilege to complain about his taxes for a good long while.

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