Saturday, January 22, 2011

Jerry Corrections Watch: Abolishing State Juvenile Facilities?

Today we begin a new CCC enterprise: Over the coming weeks and months, we'll be closely monitoring Governor Jerry Brown's correctional policies. During the gubernatorial race, we posted on Brown's history with corrections, and with CCPOA, as former governor and as attorney general. It will be interesting to see whether Brown follows in Schwarzenegger's footsteps in terms of thinking outside the box (perhaps sometimes too far out) about our correctional crisis.

Brown's new budget deviates from Schwarzenegger's pattern of budgetary cuts in the correctional apparatus, especially compared with painful cuts to other aspects of government. In fact, the Brown administration plans --

an ongoing augmentation of $395.2 million within the CDCR’s budget to correct previous budget shortfalls and more accurately reflect the operational costs within the adult institutions’ budgets. This augmentation will allow the Department to fully fund the salary and wages of authorized Correctional Officers, Sergeants, and Lieutenants, which is critical to ensuring that the adult institutions have the resources to pay security staff. The augmentation also provides funding to correct for a decline in the number of overtime hours available to CDCR to use within its adult institutions. Due to salary and wage increases for correctional officers over the last eight years, and no increase in departmental overtime funding, the overtime base does not go as far as it originally did. The use of overtime is critical to ensuring that all necessary staffing levels are maintained at CDCR’s institutions, and the decline in funded overtime hours has been a primary cause for redirections of funding from other activities.

In other respects, however, the Brown administration continues a trend from the Schwarzenegger administration: Diverting inmates from the states system to county-level jails. This move continues to draw ire from county officials, given the overcrowding in jails. The latest incarnation of these efforts is Brown's plan to abolish the state youth correctional system and incarcerate juveniles exclusively at county-level facilities. Given the distressing facts we know about state juvenile facilities, and the decline in juvenile crime, this is not necessarily a bad idea. Barry Krisberg, however, voices a serious concern that counties will prosecute more juveniles as adults, to circumvent Brown's policies.

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