Wednesday, April 25, 2012

California looks to reduce prison population

Yesterday, I wrote about California's effort to have voters decide the fate of the state's death penalty.  Today, the the focus is on cutting California's prison population, the nation's largest.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the California prison system unveiled an ambitious plan to cut spending by billions of dollars, close a prison and return inmates being housed out of state.  This will be done while meeting court-ordered benchmarks on medical care and overcrowding.

In three years, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is expected to be 7.5% of the state's total budget, down from an estimated 9.4% in the upcoming fiscal year. This is largely because of realignment, the process of sending low-level offenders to local jails instead of state prisons to comply with a court order to reduce chronic overcrowding.

"California is finally getting its prison costs under control and taking the necessary steps to meet federal court mandates," Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement, reported the Times.

A portion of the plan will require consent from the Legislature, another will require court approval. The U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to reduce its inmate population to 137.5% of prison capacity, the state expects to fall slightly short, at 141% -- a difference of up to 6,000 inmates -- by the June 2013 deadline, reported the Times.

The death penalty effort and the prison reduction effort are both being driven by budgetary constrains not necessarily evidenced based practices.  This does not appear to be about what works but rather what 'might' save money.

To read more:;postID=2927715483798373596

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