Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Why L.A. jail cells have revolving doors
A strained justice system and a flawed rehab law feed the cycle of repeat offenders.
"Under any other definition of crisis, this would be an emergency," said Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, who runs the nation's largest network of jails. "The system is collapsing because of its volume."
A solution, top law enforcement officials say, would require far more money than lawmakers have been willing to commit."We didn't cure malaria until we started draining the swamps instead of just swatting at the mosquitoes," said Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton. "The resources have just not been committed to draining the swamps."
They had been arresting (Bertha) Cuestas for prostitution and drugs since their days on the vice squad in the mid-1990s.
Rodopho Salcido had spent the last seven years in and out of prison, never in for more than a year or out for more than nine months. In 1999, he was convicted of stealing a $4,000 LAPD radio from an unmarked police car. Soon after, he went to prison in another burglary case, the first of four prison terms.
Orlando Gallegos, 34, a burglary suspect also wanted for failing to report for his parole, was living at a dingy Highland Park hotel. They found him in his narrow room, several baggies of heroin in the freezer, stolen credit cards on the dresser and two convicted criminals as company. Three years earlier, Gallegos had led him (Ofc. Marinelli) on a brief high-speed chase in a stolen car. Police first arrested Gallegos when he was 18 for possession of a small amount of marijuana. Five years later, he was arrested and convicted of vandalism. In 1999, he was convicted of domestic violence. A burglary conviction in 2000 led to prison time after he violated probation. Two years later, when Marinelli caught him driving a stolen car, he was sent back to prison.
Evaristo Torres, 31, was furious at the arrival of police. He said he'd only come by to find someone to "smoke some weed with, get a beer with." He told officers he didn't even know the names of the other men.
Gilbert Morales, 46, told police he was on parole for drunk driving and on probation for drug possession.The officer pulled a tiny baggie filled with what looked like rock cocaine from Morales' small front jeans pocket. Another bag held what appeared to be a balloon of heroin and powder cocaine.
Duarte and Marinelli had a hand in five arrests that week, all involving repeat offenders. Together, the five had at least 106 previous arrests and 61 convictions. Cuestas alone had been arrested 21 times, most recently in July.
(Read more here... and then read it again in a few months
when you're paying your taxes.)


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