Thursday, June 24, 2010

California’s Prison Reduction Plan Will Overburden Counties; Misses the Mark

By the Justice Policy Institute

WASHINGTON DC – The Justice Policy Institute (JPI) released a fact sheet today laying out reasons why the proposed California Community Corrections Act of 2010 is misguided and deeply flawed. The bill would move people serving sentences of less than three years from state prisons to already crowded county jails, shifting the costs to local counties that are already facing budget shortfalls. The grant funding available to counties for this move would not cover the costs of increased incarceration, but may create incentives for counties to incarcerate more people rather than to utilize alternatives to incarceration, like probation, since funding is based on the number of people held for the state.

JPI’s fact sheet, Shifting the Problem, notes that, on the heels of a recent court order to reduce the number of people in prison by 40,000, the state is moving in the right direction by examining different ways to reduce its prison population. This proposed legislation, however, would do more harm than good, and is not a solution to the continuing problem of over-incarceration in California; the state’s prison growth even outpaces its population growth.

"California’s prisons and jails are already beyond capacity; many of those warehoused are people who are not violent and should be returned to their communities, not moved to another jurisdiction,” said Tracy Velázquez, executive director of JPI. “Counties will bear the burden as people are sent to local jails for years.”

Velázquez added, “The current budget situation calls for smart fiscal choices; the state would be wiser to invest in more cost-effective alternatives to incarceration that support people in their communities.”

The fact sheet calls for increasing access to parole, including medical parole for those with physical or mental health conditions, improving parole practices so fewer people are returned to prison and increasing access to treatment.

To read the full fact sheet, Shifting the Problem, CLICK HERE. For a more information, please visit our website at

The Justice Policy Institute (JPI) is a Washington, D.C.-based organization dedicated to reducing society’s use of incarceration and promoting just and effective social policies.

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