Answer is education, not incarceration

In a recent column, George Will said, "California spends almost twice as much on prisons as on universities" and "America, with 5 percent of the world's population, has 25 percent of its prisoners."

These are sad statistics. In my criminology class, I learned that most criminals come from poor backgrounds and are not well-educated.

If our society spent more on educating these people and preparing them for a career when they were young, we wouldn't have to spend so much on prisons.

When they get out, who is going to hire an ex-con? And what skills will they learn while in prison? Answer: how to be a better robber. When they are put in solitary confinement, as more than 550 are in Pelican Bay Penitentiary alone, how will they be able to function in society when they get out?

The best solution for society is to help young people not turn to crime in the first place. How do we bring that about?

Burt Rodgers

Walnut Creek

Hayward considers longer yellow lights

The Hayward Police Department is scheduled to present a new contract proposal for photo enforcement of red-light violations to the City Council at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall. Critics of the ticketing program wonder if the Hayward police and engineering departments will disclose that a vast majority of violations occur within a fraction of a second after a light turns red.


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An analysis of the data provided by the city show that 71 percent of violations from the straight-through lanes of traffic occur within the first 0.7 seconds of the red light. One signal light in Fremont had 0.7 seconds added to its yellow and there was an immediate and lasting 75 percent reduction in violations of the straight-through type.

Newark, which already employs yellow lights 0.7 seconds longer than the legal minimum, reports that fewer than 10 percent of all violations occur in the straight-through lanes of traffic. Oakland reported in one study period a 48 percent reduction from all lanes of traffic when one second was added to most of its yellow lights.

Camera critics contend this simple and inexpensive solution to any red-light-running problems is not more widely used because it severely impacts revenue. When Caltrans lengthened that one yellow light in Fremont, income fell by more than $100,000 annually.

On Tuesday, Hayward may reveal how it chooses to balance safety needs versus revenue requirements.

Roger Jones

Fremont

Early education key to children's success

We know that children are our future -- and our future is in trouble if we don't start making wise investments and policy decisions now.

In 1970, one in three Californians was a child. By 2030, only one in five will be. Currently, nearly half of the state's children live in poverty or close to it, which significantly limits their potential and can even hinder their development.

With baby boomers soon to retire, shouldn't we be doing all we can to prepare our future workforce for success?

In New York's recent budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans to invest in high-quality prekindergarten. While Gov. Jerry Brown didn't cut early childhood education funding in his new budget, he also didn't move to restore the $1 billion lost from these programs in recent years.

Decades of research show that early education has a lasting impact on children's success. It leads to better outcomes in health, education and economic productivity, and saves public spending on special education, public assistance and crime.

This isn't just about the future of California's children. It's about the future of California. Investing in early education is vital to California's economic recovery.

Sean Casey

Concord Casey is the director of First 5 Contra Costa.