Jewish Journal

The $308 million You Saved Calfornia Taxpayers

by Pini Herman

June 21, 2011 | 8:38 pm

You felt like murdering someone, but you didn’t do it and you didn’t end up on death row and then in the gas chamber. That simply may have saved everybody $308,000,000.  It cost us $308 million for each of the 13 executions carried out since the death penalty was reinstated in 1978.

American Jews rarely wind up facing death row. A Jewish soccer mom, Lara Lavi, does own Death Row Records, recently catty-corner from the LA Jewish Federation building.

Lara Lavi bought out Death Row’s Suge Knight, imprisoned, later paroled and who promptly created mayhem post release.

The Knight experience brings to mind that in a few months the streets of Southern California are going to be filled with returners.  About 25,000 recently paroled inmates, and thousands of young military veterans will be back in Southern California.  The impending military draw-down of troops exiting Afghanistan, some with PTSD, MST, as well as others having acquired a taste for the easily available heroin processed near the poppy fields.

A perfect storm may be headed our way. Hundreds of probation officers are to be laid off in LA county, some remaining have caseloads of over 2,000.  Sorely lacking psychological and drug treatment services for returning soldiers has been a staple of NPR coverage.

We can still prevent some inevitable murderous rages by planning ahead for what is coming from afar to our streets in the next few months. We can save ourselves $308,000,000 times too many.

Pini Herman serves as President of the Movable Minyan a lay-lead independent congregation in the 3rd Street area.

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Bruce Phillips is Professor of Sociology and Jewish Communal Studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles. He has conducted Jewish population...

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