Editorial for February 10-13, 2017 Iím CAVE MANager Paul Lotsof. In less than two weeks, Paul Jose will be released from the Arizona State Prison in Florence and Iíll be curious as to how long heíll stay out of prison this time. In April Paul will turn 52. Iíve known him since he was sixteen, so Iím in a good position to tell his story. Paul is an American Indian. Heís a little guy, only about five foot five and perhaps 135 pounds. Not your typical picture of a dangerous criminal and he really isnít a dangerous criminal though heís spent most of his adult life in either the Arizona state prison system or the Pima County Jail. Paul was born and raised near Sells which is on the Tohono Oíodham reservation, maybe 50 miles west of downtown Tucson. His mother died when he was a small child and he and his father didnít get along well. So one day Paul packed up what few belongings he had and he bummed a ride into downtown Tucson. He had no job skills and he also hated work so Paul got the necessities of life any way he could and his bed was often a sidewalk. Before long, Paul found out that the pain of sleeping on a sidewalk on a cold winter night could be eased if he ingested a quart or two of beer. He became a hardcore alcoholic. Paul has had many run-ins with the law and nearly all of them have been alcohol related. His present legal problems stem from a combination of homelessness and drinking too much beer. Many years ago Paul got drunk as a skunk and was confronted with the laws of physics. All that beer that heíd consumed absolutely had to come out. Paul walked into a store and asked to use the restroom. The clerk told him that the restroom was only for customers. Paul wasnít interested in the storeís rules and he relieved himself. Instead of being charged with the minor offense of urinating in public, Paul got charged with indecent exposure. The same thing happened two more times. What Paul didnít know was that Arizona has a three strikes law on indecent exposure. Get convicted three times and you become a sex offender even if sex had nothing to do with the indecency. And in this case sex had nothing to do with it but that didnít matter. Under the law, Paul must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and he must also carry a special sex offender ID card everywhere he goes. If heís caught without the card, heís committed a felony. And thatís just what happened. Paul never bothered to get the sex offender card and he got arrested and ended up in prison for just over a year. When he got out he did the same thing. This time he got a longer sentence. The most recent time he got three years for not having his card. But before continuing, itís important to understand the mentality of a homeless person who is allergic to work. The system is geared to inflict punishment on offenders and the punishment is to lock them up. But when you are homeless and hate work, incarceration isnít all that much of a punishment. You get a free place to live, you get free medical and dental service and free food even if it isnít gourmet. Best of all, you donít have to do much work. Perhaps Paul purposely doesnít get his sex offender ID card. He just might be running a racket with the taxpayers of Arizona footing the bill. Letís ask some questions: Why do we have a law that makes a person a sex offender if he really isnít a sex offender? Why do we have mandatory sentencing laws so that even if the judge knows whatís going on he canít do anything except hand down the mandatory sentence regardless of the circumstances in the case? Why do our laws prescribe terrible penalties for any crime that has even a hint of sex? For example, why do we have a law that prescribes life in prison for people who download certain dirty pictures on their computers? The answer is that for many years Arizonaís criminal laws have been written and passed by the most extreme element of the Republican Party. Their mindset is to get rid of crime by locking up lawbreakers and throwing away the key no matter what the cost. Accordingly, there are about 42,000 people in our state prison system and another 11,000 in county jails. The department of corrections has an annual budget of about a billion dollars. To be sure, our prisons have some very dangerous people who need to be kept out of circulation. But we also have thousands of other people whose only crime was possession of small quantities of drugs and thousands more whose main problem is being destitute and unable to pay a competent attorney. Some are mentally ill. Meanwhile, our state ranks nearly last in per pupil spending for education while our lawmakers tell us that they canít afford to pay better salaries to teachers what with all that money going to the prison system. A high priority is to lock up people like homeless Indians who donít have their special ID cards. Is there anything we can do to make our criminal justice system more just and more cost effective? My answer to that would be yes. When there is an election, instead of having blind faith that the Republican Party can do no wrong we can consider other candidates who might have more moderate positions on crime than building new prisons and tossing more and more people into them. But our love for the Republican Party is strong and this suggestion is probably unrealistic. Meanwhile I hope that in a couple more weeks Paul will get his sex offender card and save all of us a lot of money. Iím CAVE MANager Paul Lotsof and the opinions youíve just heard are mine and not necessarily anyone elseís. If youíd like a copy of this editorial or youíd like to express your opinion go to the CAVE web site. Weíre at CAVEFM. Com. Thatís CAVEFM.com.