Last month, a delegation of Republican Assembly members went to Folsom State Prison for a tour of life behind bars. I went along on this trip because I feel it is important for every lawmaker to see firsthand the mess that California's prison system has become. While I was a bit apprehensive about the prospect of being in such close proximity to some of California's most dangerous criminals, I put my worry aside and took my place on the bus alongside my colleagues and headed for the Sierra foothills.
Upon arrival, one of the highly trained and dedicated correctional officers gave us this warning: Prison authorities do not negotiate for hostages — ever. Another officer advised us to keep our eyes out for any sudden movements made by inmates.
The prison itself is antiquated in every feature — from the outdated security doors all the way to the iron-rod jail cells. It was as though we had stepped back in time to the early 20th century. Folsom Prison is packed, too. It is not uncommon to have two prisoners housed in the small cells that were built for one, creating even larger concerns for prison's security personnel.