ScrambleWatch Q&A: Democrat Daniel Patterson on Crime

Democrat Daniel Patterson is running for House of Representatives in Legislative District 29. We asked him some questions about crime policy.

Should we increase state funding for prison construction?

You know, I’m not sure whether we should or not. I’d have to look at it more closely. I am very troubled that in a lot of ways I think weve lost the emphesis on correction in our correction system and its much more focused on punishment. Now let’s not forget, we’re supposed to be rehabilitating people who have made mistakes. This is, of course, not murderers or rapists–some people need to be locked up for good. But in general, we’re supposed to rehabilitating people so they can reenter society and be productive citizens. We don’t have that. A lot of people get out of prison and they go right back to prison within a short amount of time. So I think by and large our prison sysetm is failing. And we’re spending huge amounts of money on this. This is over a billion dollars a year on the state budget. It’s a lot of money.

Should we have more contracts with private prisons?

Absolutely not. I do not support private prisons. I think putting a profit motive on locking people up is a very dangerous to our civil liberties and it’s a bad idea all around.

Should we spend more on program that provide prisoners with vocational education while they are behind bars?

Absolutely. Again the focus has to be on rehabilitating people who have made mistakes so they can reenter society as productive citizens.

Should we look at alternatives to imprisonment for non-violent offenders?

I think we have to. We can find better ways to balance the situation. It’s simply too expensive to lock up everybody and it’s not working.

Should the state spend more on programs and facilities for at-risk youth?

Absolutely. Especially if we can provide youths with alternatives that can steer them away from crime before they get in trouble, we need to be doing that.

Should the state spend more on state and local agencies to fight terrorism?

You know I’m not so sure about that. It seems like we need to focus on street-level law enforcement. People need to be aware on what is going on around them but I think the feds are already pretty focused on that. I certainly wouldn’t favor cutting street-level law enforcement to fund some terrorist watch program or something like that. I think we have much more pressing law enforcement needs on the street level.

Should the state have a three-strikes law that puts criminals behind bars for life for a third felony offense?

I don’t think three strikes has worked the way it people have said it should or could. I do believe that judges should have discression on when people should be put away for life and when they shouldn’t based on the circumstances of the case. So I’m concerned about that because it takes away judicial discretion, which in general I think is a good idea. Most judges can take a look at the case and decide a fair sentence. Three strikes really hasn’t worked.

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