Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Building Our Way Out of Overcrowding?

Re our posts here, here and here: Yesterday's Chron offered a summary of CDCR's progress on construction projects funded by AB900. Four years after authorizing $7.4 billion dollars in bonds, "the state has not completed a single project authorized by that bill, AB900, and has begun planning or construction for only about 8,400 beds" for the 8,200 inmates currently still sleeping in "bad beds".

The piece quotes some critics of the construction path for decrowding, and it was pleasant to see the CCPOA among them.

Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, said he believes the state should undertake a "serious review" of AB900, noting that lawmakers have instituted other reforms to deal with crowding since 2007 - including medical parole for severely incapacitated inmates - and that the state's crime rate has declined.

Ryan Sherman, a spokesman for the prison guards union, which opposed AB900, said the construction authorized by the bill will not solve the state's prison crisis.

I still think, as I pointed out in another post, that despite the open-ended order in Plata/Coleman, it is completely possible to offer an entirely reasonable interpretation of the order, according to which construction projects are not an acceptable response to overcrowding. In fact, the opposite interpretation seems unreasonable to me. The order specifically provided a number of inmates to be released from prison, not an acceptable square yardage. I believe that attempting to build out way out of overcrowding is not only unsound, but also a violation of the court's order.

No comments: