Wednesday, May 16, 2007
The Now and Future Californias
Gordian Knot slashing time in CA??? The receiver put in charge of reforming the state's prison medical system by the federal judge holding the huge hammer has requested power to decide who and when to hire the prison guards there. The official rationale is that they are desperately needed to assure good treatment, transport, etc., of the sick and infirmed, but it's surely not lost on anyone that that will transfer political control of the powerful prison guard union to the courts and to the one man empowered to bring metaphorical (maybe) swords to the problem. Sen. Romero has applauded the request apparently, and she's probably the one voice there with equal strength and fortitude among state policymakers. In the meantime, the rest of the state power structure dithers as its fiscal picture darkens about as close to black as you can get in the red. And other states have this as an example and are at least trying to backpedal as fast as they can, these stories RI and WA. The problem is, the "bicycles" we've given them (early release, sentencing guidelines, underfunded alternative sentencing) don't really have the histories overall that would give us confidence that they aren't going to go flying off the same cliff. They might stop the Knotting, but I'm betting CA won't be the last one to have to apply the sword to theirs.