Imposing the death penalty?

High court orders release of California prisoners, knowing what it could mean

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When you're a judge in a criminal case, you sometimes make decisions that could come back to haunt you.

But it's not often a judge makes a ruling, outside of a death penalty case, in which he or she has to know that someone may die as a result.

This may be one of those cases.

With the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision ordering California to release up to 46,000 prisoners to relieve overcrowding, even some of the dissenting justices are warning that "terrible things are sure to happen as a consequence of this outrageous order." So says Justice Antonin Scalia, with Justice Clarence Thomas in agreement.

Note that he doesn't say "likely" or even "probably," but "sure" to happen.

In other words, the high court made a ruling in which they should know people will suffer, perhaps even die, as a result.

Scalia called the majority's ruling "staggering" and "absurd." He's being kind.

You wouldn't expect the U.S. Supreme Court to write fiction, either, but Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority, produced a novel twist on his ruling in urging lower-court judges overseeing the prisoner release to do so "consistent with the public safety." That's like telling someone to jump in a pool in a way "consistent with not getting wet." Neither can be done.

California will get more dangerous as a result of this ruling. People will suffer. There can be little doubt.

Ultimately, the American people and their craven politicians are to blame for not having the basic fortitude to build enough prison space for the amount of prisoners we have. And while it's a dubious proposition that prison overcrowding is both "cruel and unusual," as the Eight Amendment proscribes -- how can rampant, nationwide overcrowding possibly be said to be "unusual"? -- even criminals in a civil society deserve better.

Yet, the public safety must come first. In our view, judges have no place telling states to release criminals who have yet to pay their debt to society. We've got enough of them on the street already!

Thankfully, the state hopes to avoid setting any free -- by such maneuvers as sending prisoners to county facilities. Let's hope that works.

The five justices who ordered the release should hope so too.

Comments (7) Add comment
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DuhJudge
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DuhJudge 05/30/11 - 09:13 am
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If the animal shelter gets

If the animal shelter gets too crowded do they just let some of them go? I think not.

Taylor B
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Taylor B 05/30/11 - 10:20 am
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I would hope they free the

I would hope they free the nonviolent offenders that dont really need to be there anyway...

Fundamental_Arminian
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Fundamental_Arminian 05/30/11 - 11:57 am
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The overcrowding in

The overcrowding in California prisons is another example why prison systems have failed and should be discarded. Under biblical law, people were jailed only long enough to be tried and, if applicable, sentenced. The guilty had to pay whatever they owed a.s.a.p., and repayment consisted of fines, floggings, slavery, judicious amputations, and even death. God never thought criminals could pay debts to society simply by being jailed.

Biblical justice was victim-focused: it stressed making victims whole. Our prison systems are inmate-focused: they stress the correction and supposed rehabilitation of criminals while victims' needs and rights are ignored.

If California has up to 46,000 prisoners who can't be released without endangering the general population, why are they still alive? How many more expensive correctional facilities must we build before we wise up?

Beck Tears
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Beck Tears 05/30/11 - 12:46 pm
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This bible you speak of

This bible you speak of Fundamental Arminian sounds wonderful. Please, tell me more. I am especially interested in learning how I may come about owning slaves, and give folks amputations.

Way to trump up a false fear. How many people are locked up for non-violent crimes, such as carrying some dope for personal use?

How much do we spend on a prisoner a year versus a child in school for a year? Our priorities and fears in this country are seriously misguided and out of whack.

Fundamental_Arminian
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Fundamental_Arminian 05/30/11 - 01:51 pm
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"This bible you speak of

"This bible you speak of Fundamental Arminian sounds wonderful. Please, tell me more. I am especially interested in learning how I may come about owning slaves, and give folks amputations" (Beck Tears).

Biblical slavery wasn't unjust or cruel like American slavery. In Bible times, Israelites could pay off debts by becoming their creditors' slaves temporarily. Nowadays bankruptcy lets debtors go free while while it punishes their creditors. Amputations can deter crime, and no doubt do so in Muslim nations that practice it.

"Way to trump up a false fear. How many people are locked up for non-violent crimes, such as carrying some dope for personal use?" (BT).

Please remember that I'm against prisons as a way for debts supposedly to be repaid to society. Though I oppose dope use, I'm less concerned about it than about the crimes some addicts commit to support their habit.

"How much do we spend on a prisoner a year versus a child in school for a year? Our priorities and fears in this country are seriously misguided and out of whack" (BT).

I'm sure that taxpayers spend far more to restrain, house, feed, clothe, and medicate the average inmate than they spend to educate the average grade-school student. Yes, our priorities are wrong. The reason is that we've rejected God's wisdom.

dani
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dani 05/30/11 - 07:19 pm
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I would bet those who don't

I would bet those who don't need to be there, aren't.

ncbravesfan
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ncbravesfan 05/30/11 - 09:04 pm
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Beck Tears, ‘I am especially

Beck Tears, ‘I am especially interested in learning how I may come about owning slaves, and give folks amputations.’
You need to look at the muslin countries in Africa where they still have slaves.
‘Slavery in Africa continues today. Slavery existed in Africa before the arrival of Europeans - as did a slave trade that exported millions of Africans to North Africa, the Middle East, and the Persian Gulf. This trade existed following the Arab conquests of regions beneath Northern Africa and thus became widespread throughout the continent.
A system exists now by which Arab Muslims -- the bidanes—own black slaves, the haratines. An estimated 90,000 black Mauritanians remain essentially enslaved to Arab/Berber owners.’

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