Archived: SCOTUS: Empty California Prisons!


The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has stabbed California in the back with its decision ordering the state to release up to 46,000 convicts from its state prisons because, the court asserts, the state does not provide top-notch medical care for its overcrowded prisons.

With about 180,000 prisoners, California leads the nation in numbers behind bars, with prisoners sentenced to death and a plunging crime rate that is the envy of the modern world.

The reason the crime rates are plunging to 1960’s levels is our fantastic “Three Strikes” and-you’re-out-law that sentences two-time convicted felons to 15-25 years in prison and three- time losers to life behind bars. The numbers have increased exponentially in recent years.

Prisons designed to hold 1,500 prisoners are holding 4,000. Bunks are three high; rooms designed for recreation instead sleep 50 or 60 prisoners. Medical facilities are inadequate.

Prison guard unions hold the state hostage by contributing millions to legislative campaigns and helped elect a bumbling Governor Brown Junior again decades after he gave the unions the right to bankrupt the state the first time he was governor.

The state prisons are a mess; California is a mess. Now, SCOTUS has ordered 46,000 felons loose because the overcrowding and poor medical care is “cruel and unusual punishment,” a condition mentioned ambiguously in the Constitution.

Governor Brown must be given some credit for proposing that some prisoners be transferred to county jails; he did so before SCOTUS’ decision. That, however, is not enough.

Unless a practical method of cutting the prison population by 46,000 is concocted soon, convicted felons will walk out of prisons and into the general population before they finish their sentences. No one knows what the recidivism rate of these punks will be, but it is a good bet that crime will increase for these are punks that cannot live in a civilized state without committing crime; these lower-than-a-snake’s belly will terrorize the state. That is in their nature or they wouldn’t be in prison to begin with.

Are there any intelligent ways of cutting the prison population? Well, we could execute the 600-plus death penalty convicts; that would help. Better yet, Mexico!

There are about 18,000 Mexican nationals in California state prisons (according to the Department of Corrections and Immigration officers) – mostly illegally present in the United States. All are felons, well over half in jail for crimes of property. They cost us a lot of money at $40,000 per year. Just twenty miles south of the San Diego, California state line is Mexico.

What if the state of California — through the United States Department of State — negotiated a deal with the Republic of Mexico to house these prisoners for their entire sentences in existing Mexican prisons or in new ones that will spur the Mexican economy with construction and new staffing; all paid for with California dollars. Jobs for Mexico, space in California prisons.

An agreed to tight auditing procedure would make sure that every dollar paid to Mexico would be sent only after auditors confirm the presence of each prisoner.

Suppose this would cost California a thousand dollars a month per prisoner paid to Mexico, plus the payroll for American auditors. This projects a total prison expenditure of say $1,200 per prisoner, per month that would be $14,400 per prisoner per year versus the current cost of $40,000 per year, per prisoner.

The 18,000 Mexicans in prison today cost us about $720,000,000 annually. Sending them to Mexico would cost us about $259,000,000, saving California half a billion dollars. Smart negotiating could lower the cost even more.

Concurrently, the United States could pass a guest worker program legalizing Mexican workers who alone would cut crime among illegals because they could work and live legally. Living out of the shadows alone would cut crime for there would be little incentive to steal or partake in other illegal activity.

Is it possible that a short-sighted SCOTUS has done us all a favor by requiring California to “empty” its prisons?

Negotiating a deal with Mexico on prisoners will serve us well. Mexico would build new prisons, hire thousands of people to guard, feed and doctor them; California will cut its budget deficit by hundreds of millions of dollars, hire and pay fewer prison guards and the entire country would benefit with a legal work permit program that will legalize workers who otherwise might be forced to commit crimes of property to survive while they live in the shadows. Public defenders will lose because they won’t have as many Mexicans to plead guilty in otherwise kangaroo courts designed to fill prisons, which causes over-crowding to begin with.

Everyone wins except lawyers.

Contreras’ books are available at

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1 Comment

  1. You’re ignorance is shocking.
    “No one knows what the recidivism rate of these punks will be, but it is a good bet that crime will increase for these are punks that cannot live in a civilized state without committing crime; these lower-than-a-snake’s belly will terrorize the state. That is in their nature or they wouldn’t be in prison to begin with.”
    I think it even a child would realize that out of the nearly 200,000 prisoners being paid for by California tax dollars, tens of thousands of them are in there for non-violent violations and the CCPOA has worked tirelessly and given millions to ensure that as many people as possible serve prison time, including the ridiculous three strikes law. As for the idea of exporting prisoners to Mexico, it is equally uniformed and quite frankly stupid. Guess where the street drug gangs that have now augmented exponentially the power of the Mexican drug cartels came from? They came from Los Angeles and we deported thousands of them back to Mexico and Central America where they have terrorized those populations and turned themselves from violent street gangs into international crime syndicates with annual revenues in the tens of billions. Sending 18,000 of these people back to Mexico would basically be giving the drug cartels an additional 18,000 soldiers and the increasing violence in Mexico and Central America increases illegal immigration to the United States. I guess it is easy, and maybe even popular amongst people who little understand the complete and utter failure of California’s criminal justice system to demonize prisoners but violence begets violence and I would agree with former Governor Schwarz. that the only difference between prison guards and prisoners is which side of the bars they are on. I’m sure the rampant corruption experienced in Mexico’s law enforcement community stops at the imaginary line called the border right? The real problem is blatant corruption and power hungry public unions that are destroying families and communities all over California. Law enforcement should take lessons from the Counterinsurgency doctrines of the US Army in order to reduce crime and gang membership, not this hard nosed “tough on crime” bull that has bankrupted our state and led to the most expensive and most inefficient prison system in the world. Stalin’s USSR during the height of the purges had a lower per capita amount of people in prison then California does today. It is a disgrace and the brave members of the Supreme Court who finally said enough is enough to the evil prison guards union should be commended for their vigorous enforcement of this country’s constitution.

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