Prisoner release program timing questioned
August 8, 2011
The Legislative Analyst’s Office is calling on state lawmakers to get more involved in plans to reduce the number of inmates in California’s overcrowded prisons. [CaliforniaWatch]
In a report released Friday, the analyst’s office recommended that the Legislature ask the federal courts for more time to bring down the prisoner population, work to put new prison construction on hold, and change state limits on the number of prisoners who can be incarcerated out of state — currently at 10,000 inmates.
In May, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an earlier ruling that the state’s prisons are unconstitutionally overcrowded, compromising inmate health care. The federal court gave the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDRC) until roughly June 2013 to shed 34,000 inmates, California Watch said.
The analyst’s office argues the state is behind in its population reduction plans, and the corrections department is requesting an extension — all of which will get legislators to take a more active role, according to California Watch.
“Moreover, as the high court itself noted, how the state achieves compliance with the inmate population targets involves some important policy choices about how to achieve compliance with federal court orders at the least risk to the safety of the public,” the report says.
Currently, California’s 33 prisons are home to 13,371 non-lifers serving a revocation sentence or pending a revocation hearing and 18,597 inmates serving lower level offenses that are non-serious, nonviolent, and non-sex related.