A tale of two felons

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On my way down to the beach this morning on my morning jog, and then on my way back up afterwards I witnessed a group of police officers busting a grow house. There were garbage bags full of marijuana and boxes full of lights and power converters sitting on the sidewalk next to a man cuffed, leaning against his car. A police officer was inches from his face interrogating him. His possessions tossed haphazardly into a 7 foot pile in his garage.

On my way back the bags were still there, the lights and converters, the cops and pile but the man was gone. Whisked off to jail for further interrogation I’m sure. The police were standing around joking with each other and one gave me an incriminating look like I’d been gawking to the point where I was almost ready to be considered a suspect.

Yesterday in Oakland, across the bay, a mother was found shot dead, her baby nowhere to be found. A few hours later news came out that the baby was found by kayakers floating dead in the bay. They found a suspect and arrested him. This was not this man’s first murder. In 1994 he beat a 3 year old boy to death. According to a new article “He originally was charged with murder but was allowed to plead no contest to voluntary manslaughter in exchange for 11 years in prison” of which he only served six. (1)

California’s prisons are filled to almost double their capacity (158,000 in a system designed to hold around 84,000(2)) and the state, as part of it’s attempt to alleviate it’s extreme budget woes has cut $1.2 billion dollars from the prison system (3). The state has been court ordered by a panel of federal judges to cut prison populations by 43,000 in the next two years because the overcrowding has been deemed inhumane (4). These are the kinds of cracks murderers slip through. The court system strikes plea bargains and downgrade violent crimes in order to keep the cases out of costly trials; they are willing to let child killers out of prison after only 6 years. Yet, at the same time people are being incarcerated daily for growing plants that cause very little harm to anybody and bring many people much needed relaxation. Who will be bumped out of prison back onto the street to make way for the man down the street from me and all the people like him who wind up being sent through the ringer? A rapist? A murderer? We are a nation with strange priorities. Legalize marijuana now.

(1) http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_13779769
(2), (3) & (4) http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2009/08/judges-order-state-to-release-nearly-43000-prisoners-in-next-2-years.html
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