A lot of what goes wrong in America today is the fault of the lawyers.
Recently, the Fresno Bee reported that the “S.F. crime lab [was] overwhelmed.” (Terry Collins, “S.F. Crime lab overwhelmed” (2015 update: original link disappeared) (March 31, 2010) Fresno Bee, p. A9.) The link, by the way, provides the same story as the print version, but dated a day earlier and with a different title.
A couple of days ago, the Visalia Times-Delta, which is apparently a newspaper intended as a local daily equivalent to the National Enquirer, or some other piece-of-crap rag, trumpeted the complaint that a new “[l]aw frees some violent inmates.” Of course, you can’t completely blame the Times-Delta for the sensationalism on this story: it’s a slight modification of the headline accompanying the online version of the yellow journalism of the AP story. Like the Bee story, by the way, the online AP story is dated one day earlier than the print version.
Both stories demonstrate the effects of budgetary meltdown; both hint, at least inchoately, at the cause: too many crimes (thus too many criminals) and all our money is being spent on prisons instead of providing education so people will be less likely to commit these crimes. This is a non-sustainable path to anyone’s idea of a better society. We simply cannot keep building and staffing prisons, no matter how badly we want to create new jobs.
The big problem is that the Slashbucklers, who aim to deal with the problem by increasing spending on law enforcement, crime labs and prisons (but not lawyers for the indigent or more judges) instead of schools and other “social” programs, are only going to make it worse. Inevitably — and this is why I’m calling them Slashbucklers — they will bring all our systems crashing down.
In today’s Fresno Bee, Dan Walters comments (2015 update: as with many Bee stories, this link is now gone) on the need to lock down prison spending. This paragraph contained a rather stunning set of statistics:
“Corrections,” an ironic misnomer, has jumped from less than $5 billion a year to more than $10 billion [a year] in the last decade, more than twice as fast as school spending, the biggest budget item. It now costs about $45,000 a year to feed, clothe and medicate each of the state’s 170,000-plus inmates, or roughly five times what taxpayers spend on a typical public school student. And that doesn’t count what it costs to supervise tens of thousands of parolees.
Frankly, this is ludicrous.