Prison Guards Lock Down Schwarzenegger

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In a political about-face as sudden as it is short-sighted, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared that the way to fix the state’s problem-wracked prisons is by building more of them and locking more convicts up inside them.

For the last two years, Big Arnold has pushed for a range of progressive reforms in the nation’s biggest prison system, from releasing low-level female drug offenders into halfway houses to bringing back education and treatment programs – even adding the word “Rehabilitation” to the Department of Corrections official name.

Why? Because the prison population has hit a record 170,000, and reducing it makes obvious sense in a cash-strapped state that spends over $7 billion a year on incarceration and still has one of the worst recidivism rates in the country. Schwarzenegger was the first governor in years whose campaign wasn’t bankrolled with the help of the prison guards’ union, one of the state’s most profligate political donors, which freed his hand on correctional policies. But now, suffering from sagging poll numbers and facing a fall election, Schwarzenegger has made an alliance with the powerful union; to prove it, this week he called for the construction of two brand new $500 million prisons, and for the defeat of a ballot initiative that would weaken California’s notorious “three strikes you’re out” law which has put thousands of minor offenders behind bars for life.

As a federal court investigator put it, Schwarzenegger is abandoning “one of the most productive periods of prison reform” in the state’s history and giving the guards’ union back a “disturbing” degree of say over incarceration policy. C’mon, Arnold – it wasn’t that long ago that you were fighting for the freedom of all humans!

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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