Saturday, March 19, 2011

SF Chronicle: CA New Budget Includes Early Releases and Jurisdictional Changes

Today's Chron reports on the passage of a new California budget, which features deep cuts and aims at reducing the state's deficit to $14 billion. In the humonetarian tradition, correctional costs make up a big chunk of the article:

Both the Assembly and Senate had contentious debates over a major element of the budget plan - the proposal to move thousands of state prisoners to local jails, which Republicans warned would result in a public safety nightmare.

Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber (Tehama County) a former state parole board member, said counties will be overwhelmed, and thousands of criminals will go free.

"The inmates in state prison will be cheering," he said. "This is not about the budget, this is about an egregious injustice to the people of California."

But Assemblyman Charles Calderon, D-Whittier (Los Angeles County), noted the state's dismal 70 percent recidivism rate and said the bill will actually make California's streets safer.

"These people are being released from prison ... and they haven't been rehabilitated, because our prisons are overcrowded, and there's no money to rehabilitate them," he said. "This realignment will not cause prisoners to go free - they will serve their time, in a new prison called jail."

The full budget can be found here, and we will provide information about the correctional provisions in a post in the near future.

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