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End Punitive Jail Releases



Regarding late-night jail releases ("Eric's Law," May 26), I said in 2014 that Downey's policies were "punitive" as they represented the penalizing, rather than the cautionary and restorative, intentions of incarceration. I was chastised by people who saw my comments as over-heated and unfair. I feel I did not speak out forcefully enough.

Downey's reference to "constitutional rights" of arrestees was obscurantism of the highest order. What of the constitutional rights within the community he's charged to protect? And what of the constitutional rights of the arrested person he's obliged to "protect?" Putting an arrestee on the streets with virtually no options is akin to saying, "Go ahead, we dare you."

When someone is arrested for some offense, why would anyone ensure the possibility of repetition by such a thoughtless action as exposure to such extreme circumstances? This is not only punitive, it suggests culpability as it ignores the imbalance of conditions that derail people's behavior in the first place. Sheriff departments in other jurisdictions have implemented more humane policies.

I was circumspect in 2014. I will not be in 2016. Downey's unwillingness to adjust a bad policy indicates he is unfit for the job.

Larry Hourany, McKinleyville

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