Tuesday, January 31, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Bill to Amend Three Strikes Law Passes Assembly

Assembly Bill 327, introduced by Assembly Member Davis, passed in the assembly today. The new bill, whose text can be found here in full, would activate the "third strike" life imprisonment provision only if the third felony is for a serious or violent felony.

What counts as "serious or violent" felony is defined in section 667.5 of the existing penal code. The category includes serious offenses like murder, attempted murder, rape and kidnapping, but also first degree burglary, extortion and the like. It would seem to exclude some of the more scandalous examples of three strikes practices, in which the third offense would be petty theft of some sort.

The bill now moves to the senate floor. But getting too excited about this may be premature; the bill explicitly specifies that it only comes into effect if approved by voters in the 2014 election.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

CCC Opposes SOPA and PIPA

The California Correctional Crisis Blog joins the struggle against Internet censorship, and will therefore not offer new content today.
Tell your representatives that you oppose SOPA and PIPA and be one more voice on behalf of freedom of information.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Judge Henderson Orders End of Receivership

Today, Judge Thelton Henderson of the U.S. District Court expressed satisfaction with the improvements to prison health care, and ordered the federal Receiver, Clark Kelso, to report by april 30th when the receivership should end and whether the prison health care system will remain under federal oversight.

The Associated Press and the San Francisco Chronicle report:

The ruling marks an important milestone in a process that began nearly six years ago when the judge appointed a receiver to run California's prison medical system after finding that an average of one inmate a week was dying of neglect or malpractice. He cited inmate overcrowding as the leading cause, but said in Tuesday's order that conditions have improved.

He praised the better conditions throughout the system, particularly noted during inspections of medical facilities by the prison system's independent inspector general.

"Significant progress has been made," Henderson wrote, citing the receiver's own report to the federal court last week. "While some critical work remains outstanding — most notably on construction issues — it is clear that many of the goals of the Receivership have been accomplished."

While the Prison Law Office expressed concern that the Receivership's end is premature, it might be a wise thing to start preparing for the shift in health care with the realignment. Counties will have to incur some of the costs for inmates' health. But it's worthwhile to remember that serious offenders, who usually serve more time, will remain in state prisons, and their lengthy prison sentences also implies that they age in prison and thus require expensive care.

Many thanks to Brooke McCarthy for alerting me to this.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Correctional Budget 2012-2013


 Governor Brown has released the proposed 2012-2013 California budget. The full details are here and the summary is here.

The correctional budget comprises 7.8% of the total state budget including special funds. Looking just at general fund numbers, the expenditure on corrections is slightly less than that on higher education. 

However, counting in special funds and bonds, the total expenditure on corrections will be $10,719 million, which is an increase of 11.4% from last year's budget, and slightly more than the expenditure on higher education.

For those of you wondering how this money will be distributed among various correctional agencies post-realignment, look at the next table:

Most of the money still goes to the state apparatus with only about $100,000 being allocated to the counties. The full breakdown is available here in PDF format.

The report also lists the changes in programs that will ensue from the new budget. The main changes are as follows:

  • The decrease in numbers of state inmates (from 163,152 to 132,167) and parolees (from 108,338 to 56,440) due to the realignment implies a decrease in state incarceration and parole budgets--a reduction of $453.3 million in 2011-12 and $1.1 billion in 2012-13.
  • The outcome of Coleman v. Brown (the mental health side of the Plata case) required an increase of $34.3 million in 2011-12 and $27.3 million in 2012-13 in money allocated for mental health programs.
  • Shifting responsibilities for juvenile offenders from the state level to the county level, which decreased the size of the state apparatus (1174 to 1149 inmates, 850 to 656 parolees) also implies a decrease in budget. 
  • The Estrella Correctional Facility has been cancelled, as there is no need for more beds.
  • Expenditures for constructing the California Health Care Facility (CHCF) ($10.9 million) have been earmarked.
  • Pharmaceutical Costs-The Budget includes $59.9 million for adult inmate pharmaceutical costs, primarily driven by an increase in drug prices.
  • The budget includes an increase of $49 million in Community Corrections Performance Incentive Grants, which county probation departments receive if they demonstrate success in recidivism reduction.
  • Another $8 million General Fund and $46.3 million are reduced to reflect the transfer of resources from the Corrections Standards Authority to the newly established Board of State and Community Corrections.
  • FInally, the budget includes $101 million to restore a prior one-time reduction to rehabilitation services programs.

What's also interesting is the distribution of funds within the counties. The full budget for state and community corrections can be found here in PDF format.  It seems to still be in somewhat amorphous form, which makes sense given that each county will probably have some freedom in crafting its own budget. 

We will continue to follow up on the realignment and on the expenditures of these funds in the future.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year from the CCC Blog

And what a year it will be!

The Criminal Justice Realignment will figure prominently in our posts this year, with a special focus on the recent news regarding cuts that may endanger many juvenile programs. The most serious concern stemming from the cuts is that juveniles will be tried as adults. Some thoughts on the proper direction to take from Selena Teji and Emily Luhrs are posted here.

We're also excited about the prospect of SAFE California's initiative to end the death penalty in California in 2012, as well as a possible amendment of the Three Strikes Law to include only violent felonies.

Thank you, as always, for your readership, and stay with us by reading, commenting, and emailing.