California’s prisons, with approximately 117,000 inmates, are currently at more than 144 percent of capacity. Recent federal court rulings requiring a reduction in the prison population have created massive ongoing public safety and fiscal concerns.
Solutions have included transferring thousands of prisoners from state to county supervision, and the relocation of thousands more to facilities located in other states.
Last September, the Governor and legislative leaders from both parties reached agreement on how to proceed. Federal judges would be asked to extend the April deadline to reduce the state’s prison population to 137.5 percent of capacity in exchange for a promise to spend millions on rehabilitation efforts. As a result, the three judge federal panel overseeing the state’s overcrowding case recently extended the deadline until February, 2016.
Had the courts refused, California would have been forced to spend millions of scarce dollars, including up to $70 million over the next two years, to relocate additional prisoners to other states.
This ruling had been anticipated. Governor Brown’s proposed budget assumed the courts would grant the extension. Consequently, there will be no resulting windfall of unanticipated revenues.
As a member of the Public Safety Committee and the Select Committee on Justice Reinvestment, I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to arrive at a permanent solution to the overcrowding problem that is financially sound and, more importantly, guarantees public safety, government’s first and most important responsibility.
By Calif. State Assemblymember Marie Waldron (R-75th District)