Sunday, January 13, 2008

We Are Not Alone: California may resort to early release for nonviolent offenders to stem prison overcrowding

As Texas considers whether to release parole-ready offenders early to respond to chronic prison guard understaffing, it's interesting to note that California is already two steps ahead of us with their plans to release prisoners ("Early release plan is praised, decried," Los Angeles Times, Jan. 11):
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.

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.
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).

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.'"


Anonymous said...

That means CA would have 145,000 prisoners after letting 28000 go, less than Texas but with 50% more population?? Wow!!

Whose crime rate is higher?

Anonymous said...

I stumbled across your blog doing research for any program out there that I might find for my 22 year old son. Smart into drugs early after a sad divorce. Finally got his GED...He has three misdemeanors, 1 under 2 ounce...1 theft under $500 and 1 DUI. He has never had a job more than a week...doesn't know how to do anything and of course lacks the confidence to stick with all addicts (he has done 3 stints in rehab and is currently clean?) he has no self confidence BUT most importantly can't seem to get a job because of his record...any suggestions would be welcome.I don't think his record is "bad" enough for Project Rio. I'll watch for an answer if you care to and then send you my email address. Thanks,
Worried Mom in Fort Worth

Anonymous said...

It never ceases to amaze. This country is subject to booms and busts, bull markets and bear markets, etc., yet the impression was that there would always be money to incarcerate our way out of social problems. Particularly when it came to the War on (Some) Drugs.

But the fiscal reality of a country teetering on bankruptcy thanks to the hundreds of billions wasted on the domestic Wo(S)D (money now needed for real wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) is starting to sink in. This government has spent the taxpayer's money like a drunken sailor, and now it's the morning after, said gob has a pounding hangover, and can't afford to pay the bills on his tab.

It's belt-cinching time, and also a good opportunity to determine whether a nuisance (drug usage) is deserving of hard-earned taxpayer's dollars to incarcerate someone for engaging in. Because its' obvious to all but the most die-hard DrugWarrior that the bottom has finally dropped out of the fiscal well.

Anonymous said...

to ftwth mom: Go to the backgate website (on grits links) then go to the civilian message board. Pose your questions there. There are a number of us whose smart children and/or husbands
have the same resume as your son and have graduated to prison. You can probably get some honest answers there.
You can also get some annonymous emotional support. The folks on that board call it like they see it but it might be worth your time.