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California's Broken Parole and Probation System

And what was it that had her spending so much time behind bars?  Morris is a thief.  Not the worst of criminals, to be sure, but still a thief, one who was undeterred by whatever modest punishments were meted out to her early in her life of crime.  For no one, and I mean absolutely no one, goes to prison for a first-time shoplifting offense.  And in Los Angeles, it takes several priors for any judge to even consider sentencing a shoplifter to prison.  “Morris,” says the L.A. Times, “said she has spent the last decade bouncing in and out of jail and prison for shoplifting or violating her parole by not taking her medication.”

And here the writer, Jason Song, demonstrates a level of credulity one hopes is rare among journalists.  No one, and I mean no one, goes to jail, much less state prison, for failing to take his medication, unless that failure somehow contributes to a person’s decision to commit a crime.

No,  Morris is just a thief, plain and simple.  “She first went to jail in 1999,” says the Times, “for stealing clothes from a Target store.  Ten years later, she said, she was arrested for the same offense: taking baby clothes from an Old Navy in Manhattan Beach.”

The reference to baby clothes is perhaps another lame attempt to arouse sympathy in the reader.  Were the clothes intended for  Morris’s own baby?  If so, who was left looking after the child while  Morris was off serving her four terms in prison?

The first four times . . .

As it happened, the LAPD officers called on Morris at her group home while it was being visited by Los Angeles County supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who took offense to the officers’ actions and expressed as much to LAPD chief Charlie Beck.  “It’s not cost-effective,” Ridley-Thomas told the Times, “particularly when there was no imminent threat of danger.”

Perhaps it isn’t, but neither was the system that allowed Morris to go on helping herself to other people’s property year after year.  Heaven knows how much she lifted before she was so unfortunate as to be nabbed on those four separate occasions.

Morris claims she was so upset by the visit from the police that she went back to living on the streets for some time before returning to the group home.  “It kind of set me back,” she told the Times.

Boo hoo.  Morris, like many other released felons, will have to come to terms with the fact that the days of bamboozling her overworked paroled officer are over, and that from now on police officers, people who are happy to get off their keisters and out of the office, will be looking in on her to make sure she minds her manners.

It’s not a job local police asked for, but if it makes people like Morris a little nervous about taking things without paying for them, if she’s deterred to the point she is spared a fifth stint in prison, maybe it will prove to be worth the trouble.