Overall, [Gov. Arnold] Schwarzenegger's budget estimates that his plan would cut the prison population, now 173,000, by more than 28,000 inmates next year and nearly 35,000 by 2010. As many as 2,000 prison guards would face layoffs.The secretary of California's Department of Corrections says he believes the state's prison system is "too big to manage." If so, then so is Texas'. California incarcerates around 173,000 inmates, compared to about 157,000 in Texas (although California's overall population is more than 50% greater than ours).
For the state to reduce the inmate population enough to save, as it hopes, more than $370 million by 2009 and $750 million annually by 2010, it would have to keep 50,000 or more convicts out of prison, by some estimates. That is because many serve only a few months at a time; the state might have to get rid of three short-timers to eliminate one bed.
Even critics of Schwarzenegger's plan in California appear recognize the self-defeating trends that brought them there: "'I voted for these measures like 'three-strikes' too,' said [Richard] Word, president of the police chiefs association. 'I guess this is the price you have to pay. The bill is due now.'"