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Raid the Budget for prison expansion? No Way!
Rumors are swirling that Governor Brown is going to try to raid the state's fragile budget surplus to fund hundreds of millions of dollars in prison expansion.
This is the worst possible scenario not just for prison reform in California - but for our schools, our roads, our hospitals, and our social services. We absolutely cannot let this happen.
The only way to beat this is to get way out in front of it - if we do our job right, the proposal will never even see the light of day. So please tell your Assemblymember and State Senator now to pledge to vote against any new money for prison expansion, period. To the Honorable Governor Brown and Elected Officials,
We are writing in response to the Ninth District Federal Judges ruling from April 11th, that was recently upheld by the United States Supreme Court on August 2nd, in hopes that you will take into consideration the overwhelming support by California voters for you to release people from our over crowded prisons. We hope that instead of dipping into the state budget reserve to finance additional prison beds that you will look at more cost effective methods of releasing people from our overcrowded prisons. Our budget reserve should be used for restorations to much needed social safety net programs, not more prison cells. We can not afford hundred of millions of dollars going into the bloated corrections budget.
We believe the only sustainable solution to reducing overcrowding is to reduce the number of people who are imprisoned in California. We want the implementation of compassionate release, medical parole, geriatric parole, lifer parole, youth sentence reduction, expansion of good-time credits, reclassification of low-level felonies, and expansion of the Alternative Custody Program; all of which are among many cost-efficient, responsible options for population reduction. We hope that the Administration’s plan does not include the use of additional transfers to out-of-state or in-state contract facilities such as the community correctional facilities Taft and Shafter that CDCR recently toured in Kern County.
Additionally, we hope that all current prison expansion projects are canceled including the $810 million in in-fill bed construction, which CDCR is looking to site at Donovan, Mule Creek, Folsom or Vacaville prisons. We hope that the reduction plan does not include “realigning” additional people to serve time in already overcrowded county jails or leasing jail bed space from any California County specifically Alameda or Los Angeles. According to a recent Los Angeles Times Article "California prisons could free 1,000 to ease crowding": Many jails are full. In Los Angeles County, for example, "the sheriff has simply said we can't handle any more," said Steve Whitmore, spokesman for Sheriff Lee Baca.
We do applaud you for reducing the amount of prisoners in prison since the implementation of realignment, however, in order to stay out of the fiscal crisis California has suffered through for so long we need to invest in viable prison population reduction strategies. The cost per inmate - adjusted for inflation - has continued to climb and is substantially higher than in the mid-1990s. In California spending has increased to about $60,000 for each prisoner in 2013-14 which is 82.3 percent higher than in 1994-95 ($33,000 after inflation). At the same time, California's spending per K-12 student has risen by just 17.9 percent during the same period ($6,971 in 1994-95 to a projected $8,219 in 2013-14 after inflation). Spending per prisoner in California has increased nearly five times faster than spending per K-12 student over the past two decades. We need to focus on the priorities that are going to make California the state that it once was instead of continuing to waste money on locking people up and not taking the chance that we now have to reduce the population.
There is overwhelming support for your administration to release people from our overcrowded prisons immediately. I ask you to pledge, that we no put one more dollar into the bloated corrections budget.