This year California plans to spend $9.8 billion on prisons, making it the third-highest general fund expenditure, behind education and healthcare, according to the Los Angeles TImes. Californians are fed-up with the enormous expenditures on incarceration.
A survey by the Los Angeles Times and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, shows a clear shift in attitude by residents forced to confront the cost of tough sentencing laws passed in recent decades.
More than 60% of respondents, including majorities among Democrats, Republicans and those who declined to state a party preference, said they would support reducing life sentences for third strike offenders convicted of property crimes such as burglary, auto theft and shoplifting.
Nearly 70% said they would sanction the early release of some low-level offenders whose crimes did not involve violence.
About 80% said they approve of keeping low-level, nonviolent offenders in county custody — including jails, home detention or parole — instead of sending them to state prisons. The same percentage favors paroling inmates who are paralyzed, in comas or so debilitated by advanced disease that they no longer pose a threat to public safety.
Only 12% of respondents said they'd be willing to accept less state spending on healthcare or education to pay for more prisons. And less than a quarter of voters want to pay higher taxes to build prisons or ship inmates to private lockups in other states to comply with the courts, reported The Times.
To read more: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jul/21/local/la-me-poll-prisons-20110721