California Plans for smaller, less expensive prison system

April 30, 2012

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has announced its intention to reduce the number of prisons, stop construction of planned prisons, and return California prisoners from out-of-state prisons. They base their plan on the continued reduction in state prison populations (already approximately 22,000), that has resulted from the shifting of less serious offenders from prison to county facilities (see SF Chronicle article on Facebook feed on left)

According to CDCR Secretary Mathew Cate (photo on left),

CDCR’s plan will:

  • Reduce CDCR’s annual budget by more than $1.5 billion upon full implementation, including $160 million dollars in savings from closing the California Rehabilitation Center;
  • Eliminate $4.1 billion in construction projects that are no longer needed because of population reductions;
  • Eliminate $2.2 billion annually that would have been spent had Realignment not been implemented;
  • Return all out-of-state inmates to California by 2016 to bring back jobs and manage offenders closer to home while saving millions in taxpayer dollars;
  • Satisfy the U.S. Supreme Court’s order to lower the state’s prison population;
  • Satisfy the federal courts that CDCR has achieved and maintained constitutional levels of medical, mental health and dental care to avoid costly oversight

(For a complete description of the plan and Secretary Cate’s Statement, click here)

The CDCR Plan is not without it’s critics. In a L.A. Times article (click here), Emily Harris of Californians United for a Responsible Budget, said that it’s “not really a bold vision in any way… the state should be paroling more inmates and easing criminal sentences, which would help lower the prison population further”.

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