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Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Granny get your gun...or something to protect you!

This isn't terribly timely news, but still, what dumbass came up with this idea? Vulnerable adults plus sex offenders is a pretty poor mix, which should be obvious to anybody with a quarter of a brain. What's next? I hear that Minneapolis schools are having budget problems and may close schools, so why not use the extra space to house some criminals? It's win-win!

There is a larger issue here: is anybody thinking about how our criminal justice system works? The state is running out of space to house sexual offenders, which is supposedly why they stuck them in a nursing home. But why? Minnesota's prison population, like the rest of the country's, is exploding. According to TalkLeft, there are now more than 2.1 million people in prison in the U.S. One out of every 75 males is behind bars. No wonder we are running out of space.

What is also clear is that most of these people shouldn't be in prison. Our prison population is exploding because of mandatory sentencing laws, three-strikes laws, and a "get tough on drug offenders" mentality that is having some very real consequences. I will admit that I am not terribly concerned about sex offenders being released (in fact, I could be at a community notification meeting regarding the Level 3 sex offender moving into my neighborhood as I write this). However, I am even less concerned about a person moving in here who is a felon because he sold weed to some undercover cop and ran afoul of mandatory sentencing. If I had to choose between whom I wanted locked up, I'll take the sex offender.

As a result of politician's attempts to pander to constituents' fears and look "tough on crime," we are imprisoning more and more of our population who are not dangerously violent. The overcrowding of prisons results in situations like the one we are facing now, where truly dangerous people are put out in the community with inadequate supervision. It's time the adults sat down and had a serious discussion about how our criminal justice system should work so that the right people are behind bars.

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