The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, February 11, 2004

California prisons: no general appetite evident for taking on the goons

As I explained on February 7, Governor Schwarzenegger has made a start.

But if Arnie is leading the charge, the cavalry behind him looks pretty sparse.

The big names of Golden State journalism are lending a hand: the LA Times which sprang the Gropee Eruption in the last days of the recall campaign has a stirring piece by Patt Morrison (February 10):
The prison guards' union has managed to make old-line union bosses of the Hoffa mold look wimpy and ham-fisted.

Going through, in summary, much of the thought-process of earlier pieces here, he concludes:
So who's in charge here? That's what a lot of pols would like to know, and a lot fewer have the nerve to ask.

Arnie (allegedly) grabs hold of some starlets' asses, and that's news: the prison guards have the political process of the state by the balls and not many seem that interested.

The Sacramento Bee (February 10) has an idea:
Among other things, it is crucial that the governor begin a thorough review of the contract Gov. Gray Davis negotiated with the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, the prison guard's union, in 2002, with an eye toward removing those provisions that violate state law and endanger inmates and prison staff.

Good luck with that!

Except, perhaps the wretched thing is voidable on account of fraud and duress, or something of the sort. It says that
When the California State Auditor examined the controversial CCPOA agreement almost two years ago, the Davis administration refused to turn over key documents.

Arnie needs something that doesn't require the intervention of the Legislature which is, or behaves as if it is, bought and paid for by the goons.

Is it possible to federalise the California prison system (on the grounds of flagrant and systematic denial of rights under the US Constitution)? The Reagan air traffic controller solution - fire the lot and start again - has obvious appeal.

And - need it be pointed out? - time is not on Arnie's side. He only has until the expiry of his current term (recall permitting!) to get the thing done and impossible to undo: given that his social views make him a GOP non-starter in any normal election. Capo Mike Jimenez will play for time, splash the moolah around, and wait for a recrudescence of politics as usual come January 2007.

(Of course, if the Feds could get Jimenez and some of his fellow top goons in orange suits sometime soon, the odds might shorten a bit.)

What Arnie needs is a popular uprising amongst voters against the CCPOA. Legislators cowering in their CCPOA-financed rat-holes need to be made to fear the voters more than the goons.

But these are the people who, after Bill Lockyer jokingly gave his approval to rape as an integral part of the prison regime, returned him to his post as Attorney-General - from memory, with an increased majority. My feeling is that the average Californian not only does not mind that the prisons are controlled by the goons: he actually thinks it's a good idea.

Calling Superman, Batman, Spiderman...

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