Friday, June 15, 2007

Crime Pays

One sad truth of life in America, particularly California, is that property crime pays for criminals. They rarely get caught and when they do they get paltry punishment and go right back to their lying, cheating and stealing ways. A story in the SF Chronicle this morning tells of how a victim of identity theft chased down the criminal who stolen from her.

The story is a compelling narrative but ending is enough to make one sick. The criminal had eight prior fraud convictions. Even though the vicitm's bank has videotape of the criminal illegally and fraudulently withdrawing money from the victims bank account, this scum-bag thief ended up with almost no punishment:

On June 6, she pleaded guilty to one felony count of using another person's identification fraudulently. She was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn to the 44 days she had already served in county jail and three years' probation.

The probation part of the sentence is a joke since the thief was already on probation when she committed her new crimes. I'm starting to think Paris Hilton is getting unfair treatment since a felony violation of probation nets common criminal time served and more probation.

One of the basic parts of the social contract is that the government is obligated to protect citizens from crime. In California and probably other states as well, we have a revolving door justice system that puts criminals right back on the street to commit more crimes. I bet this thief is already back stealing from other people. The government failure to protect the citizens is abrogation of its most basic responsibilities.

One of the principle causes from this soft of crime disaster is the drug war. Our prisons and jails are full of drug offenders. Mother Jones has a great report on our exploding incarceration which is driven by drug crimes. The drug prohibition makes all of us less safe since the resources we would have used to fight real crime are diverted to this pointless waste.

Anti-drug zealots like to claim drug use drives crime but this is only true because the illegal drugs are expensive. If drugs were to be legalized, prices would fall dramatically. The police and the prison system could then go back to fighting real crime.

The failure of CA government to protect its citizens is my biggest area of disagreement with the Democratic party. I hate to repeat any Republican talking point but Democrats really are too lenient on crime. Republicans are not much better since their obsession with the War of Drugs won't leave enough resources fight crime that actually harms upstanding citizens. I can only hope my fellow citizens will wake up and realize the drug war is hurting them every day. Even if you are not ripped off by criminals who should be in jail, you are paying higher insurance rates.

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