Prison release gambles with Californians’ safety 

When the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a court order for reducing California’s 140,000 prison inmates by 46,000, the strongly contested 5-4 decision brought dissenting Justice Samuel A. Alito’s prophetic warning, “The majority is gambling with the safety of the people of California.”

Apparently 13,000 inmates have already been given early releases, leaving 33,000 inmates for the state to shed over the next two years.

Instead of contracting with private jail facilities, Gov. Jerry Brown’s AB-109 law will inject many of those inmates into county jail facilities as of Oct. 1, forcing local authorities to release county inmates to offset the mandated increase of state inmates. Inevitably, some of the early-released state and county inmates will be housed in group homes.

It’s bad enough that so many of our neighborhoods are terrorized by burglaries, thefts, assaults and sex crimes, which have increased because of the recession and job losses. But when the state surreptitiously adds more criminal group homes to residential areas, it is unconscionable.

Daniel B. Jeffs
Apple Valley

Soft stories a big problem

San Francisco’s Building Inspection Department recently completed a 10-year study of “soft story” buildings. These are typically three-story, wood frame structures with two residential levels over garage or commercial spaces with large ground-floor openings. They are seriously at risk in the event of a large earthquake.

New mandates will require property owners to seismically upgrade these buildings, but financing the work is a real problem, because most of them are rent-controlled apartment buildings where tenants gradually secure lifetime leases at fixed rates.

One can only hope that this important public-safety issue will finally bring to light the dangerous situation created by decades of deferred maintenance to our housing stock.

Judy West
San Francisco

Police have poor training

I’ve been living in San Francisco for about two years, and have seen more cases of excessive force used by the police than I have in the previous years of my life combined.

I think the problem lies with insufficient training, which all boils down to money. It’s money that enables the training program, it’s money that keeps veteran officers on pay instead of forcing retirement with reduced pensions, and it’s money that brings better equipment.

Less money means less training, with tighter budgets that force corner-cutting. This leads to extra stress that can trigger bad judgment, and bad judgment can lead to killing someone.

Bunta Yamazaki
San Francisco

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