|Image courtesy www.examiner.com.|
After more than two months delay, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-SF), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Public Safety, arrives today at one of California’s Maximum Security correctional facilities to see for himself the progress the State’s prison system is making to address concerns of judges and reform advocates for the care of incarcerated Californians.
Earlier this year Ammiano likened California’s 33 prisons to “Gladiator Academies,” where Californians incarcerated for homelessness, victimless crimes like drug possession and those with mental illness must choose between “being victimized or victimizing others.”
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Perhaps surprisingly, Ammiano’s visit is welcomed by CDCR. “When I heard about his plans my first thought was, ‘What took him so long,’” CDCR spokeswoman Terry Thornton told California Progress Report. “I wish more legislators would visit our prison system.”
Thornton admits the prison system has made mistakes, many of which were thrust upon it as the legislature cut from its budget money earmarked for re-entry programs like education, vocation-training, drug rehabilitation and counseling and mental health services – cuts that have led to California’s notoriously high recidivism rate.
“Look, if you’re going to cut social services, education and healthcare for senior citizens – even my own salary was cut, as were the salaries of most state employees, and that really hurt, believe me – why wouldn’t the CDCR experience cuts to [programs geared toward the successful return of parolees to society], asked Thornton. “But things have turned around, funding has been restored, and our recidivism rate is down.”
Props to Caitlin Henry for the link.