Dr. Manny Says: Keep Violent Inmates in Jail, No Matter What the Cost

Today, readers, I’d like to tell you a story about a man named Steven Martinez.  He’s 42 years old, and presently, he is in Corcoran State Prison in California serving a sentence of 157 years to life.  This is his twelfth year.He’s in prison as a repeat violent offender.  Most notably, he ran a woman down in his car, then proceeded to beat, kidnap and rape her.

Do you think this man deserves to be in jail?  I certainly do.

The catch is, ten years ago, Martinez got into a knife fight with another prisoner and his spine was severed, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down.

Thanks to a new law in California, this injury allowed Martinez the opportunity to apply for medical parole release.  This law is a result of U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to lower its prison population by about 33,000 in two years, and is aimed at cutting the number of inmates and reducing costs of care in the California state prison system.

However, only 50 inmates are likely to be initially eligible for medical parole – a far fewer number than California legislators anticipated when they approved the law – which has opened up opportunities for violent men like Martinez to attempt to weasel their way out of prison.

His argument was essentially this: The state of California is spending so much money taking care of me in prison (about $625,000 a year in medical care alone). Why not just release me? Let me be free, and you’ll save a lot of money.

His lawyer backed his argument up by stating,  “Vengeance for vengeance sake is a luxury we can no longer afford.”

I applaud the two parole commissioners who heard Martinez’ case and ruled against releasing him from prison. In my opinion, they rightly recognized that though Martinez no longer presents much of a physical threat, he is still the same person who beat and raped an innocent woman, among other crimes.

Putting somebody in prison for kidnapping and rape should not be considered “vengeance.” Rather, I see it as the responsible and ethical approach to deal with a criminal who does not deserve to roam free terrorizing the public. This is why we have laws and why we have trials.

I know that we have serious economic difficulties in this country right now, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that our legal system must remain the gatekeeper to ensure the safety of our society. I sincerely hope that prison officials in California continue to carefully consider the cases of each individual prisoner, as opposed to releasing them in droves for money’s sake.

What do you think?