Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Boycott Arizona? Only if we can bring our prisoners home

As a sense of genuine revulsion toward Arizona's new status crime of being a person who looks like an illegal immigrant grows in the Golden State, public officials from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to State Senate President Darrell Steinberg are warming to the idea of a California boycott of Arizona. Its a good sign of how far we have come since the dark days of the 1994 when California under Pete Wilson led the nation in immigrant bashing xenophobia (although we still have the Prop H8 egg on our face). (California now looks at Arizona the way Europe looks at the United States). But according to Susan Ferriss' reporting in the Sac Bee, an interesting wrinkle has emerged, thousands of California prisoners that are in custody in Arizona under contract with our bloated and catastrophically overcrowded prison system.

Schwarzenegger did tell reporters that he didn't want any California prisoners housed in Arizona returned to the state because he wants to save money on incarceration costs.

But perhaps there is a chance here to combine our growing identity as a cosmopolitan globally minded state (at least relative to Arizona) with a our desperate need to shed both prisoners and fear. Let us bring those prisoners back from Arizona and reduce California prisons by enough low risk, parole ready prisoners (lists of which the state has been preparing for months). Most of those prisoners will return to places like Alameda County where there is a vibrant re-entry community ready to be put to work reducing the risks that those released prisoners will return to crime and prison. If need be let the Governor lead a telethon to raise money to support these services for this special group of "no thank you, Arizona," parolees. This won't be about complying with the courts. It will be about standing up for California values.


Michael Ejercito said...

You either side with the American people or with the illegal aliens.

I side with the American people.

Truth Connection said...

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