5 minutes to read

Before starting this post, let me point out that for years I was a card-carrying registered Republican. My beliefs about the Democratic Party are such that even after coming to the sad conclusion that I could no longer support the Republicans, I registered as “No Preference.” For reasons mostly relating to time, I won’t go into all the reasons for this right now.

However, I miss the old Republican Party. If we had truth-in-­­advertising laws, the new Republican Party would change its name to the “Let’s See If We Can Destroy America” Party. Then maybe we could have a real Republican Party again.

Ever since the President’s (apparent) joke concerning “Compassionate Conservatism” — which is just another way of saying, “We’re going to say nice words while we screw you over” — the Republican Party has tried to convince the world that evil can be a reasonable life choice.

Or maybe Republicans are just huge fans of Orwell’s 1984.

At any rate, first they gave us what John McCain touts as the new Hundred-Years’ War. [1]For information on the original Hundred Years’ War, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hundred_Years’_War (last visited July 14, 2008). Now, they’re working to increase the number of criminals aimlessly — and anonymously — wandering America.

In 2005, in California, the Department of Corrections, along with other departments, was reorganized and re-named. No longer known as the California Department of Corrections (CDC), it became the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Unfortunately, other than a name change, little else has been done in the way of attempting to rehabilitate people. In fact, it appears that some Parole Agents — in my opinion Karen Wise of Fresno is a prime example of this — have trouble even recognizing that they’re dealing with people, let alone that a large part of their job is supposed to be to help re-integrate them into the rest of society. But my opinions on Ms. Wise will constitute another story, another day.

What concerns me today is the story on B4 of today’s Fresno Bee entitled “ID cards could keep parolees out of jail.” [2]I can’t find an online version of that article, but for more on the difficulties parolees without IDs experience, read “Searching for his identity” on Westword at http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2007 /03/searching_for_his_identity.php and “Legislation would make it easier for parolees to get identification” at http://www.prisontalk.com/ forums/showthread.php?t=64987
(both last visited July 14, 2008).
In March 2003, President Bush decided there weren’t enough terrorists in the world. [3]Or maybe it was part of the economic stimulus package for Bush supporters? See http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7444083.stm (last visited July 14, 2008). Update: If you really want to scare yourself, read http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/13/opinion/13rich.html (last visited July 15, 2008). To solve this problem, the U.S. needed to attack Iraq. Now a Republican Assembly Member in California wishes to increase the number of recidivists: parolees returning to prison. His plan is to resist making it easier for parolees to get state identification. [4]Or maybe it’s part of the economic stimulus package for the prison guards’ union? See http://www.facts1.com/reasons/money.htm and http://igs.berkeley.edu/library/htCaliforniaPrisonUnion.htm (last visited July 14, 2008).

“I don’t think that parolees should be able to jump the DMV line and get special treatment at the cost of taxpayers,” said Assembly Member Joel Anderson, R[epublican]-Alpine. “It’s $55,000 that we shouldn’t be spending to give special privileges to parolees. … I wouldn’t give them two cents.” [5]Daniel Zarchy, “ID cards could keep parolees out of jail” (July 14, 2008) Fresno Bee p. B4, col. 1.

Remember what I said above about George Orwell’s 1984? This is the perfect example. Anderson does not want to “give” $55,000 “to parolees.” Not even when the money is actually being given to the CDCR. Not even when it will save much more than that in taxpayer dollars. So who is he kidding when he complains about the cost to taxpayers to fund this program?

There are two problems with this hard-assed approach to parolees. First of all, we want parolees to have proper identification. It’s better for us for parolees to be officially identified. Second, it’s better for the parolees, because it makes it easier for them to obey the law. In most cases (excluding innocent people who were convicted and then served their entire sentence), parolees would not be parolees if they had not already exhibited difficulty complying with the procedures, rules and expectations of society. Ensuring they have proper identification upon release from prison makes it easier for them to comply with other rules and to obtain employment.

The same news article that quoted Mr. I-Don’t-Think-Taxpayers- Should-Spend-More-Money-on-Parolees noted that if only two parolees are kept from returning to prison by the new program, the taxpayers about whom Mr. I-Don’t-Think-Taxpayers-Should- Spend-More-Money-on-Parolees pretends to be concerned would save $16,000. And that’s for just one year. Each year parolees are not in prison, using the figures in the story, saves us approximately $35,500. Per parolee. Thus, if the program keeps three parolees from returning, the savings in the first year is $51,500; four parolees the first year saves us $87,000; ten parolees not returning to prison for one year saves us nearly half-a-million dollars. I’m fairly sure the average taxpayer won’t mind spending $55,000 on parolees for the chance to save a half-a-million- or-more taxpayer dollars per year.

Take into account another fact the underwhelming intellect of Assemblyman Anderson missed: Every parolee not standing in line at the DMV makes the already-too-long lines at the DMV that much shorter.

We wonder why our system appears to be broken. We wonder why things seem to get worse instead of better. One look at Republican Assembly Member Joel Anderson and you can stop wondering.


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