State prisoner decline stalls
November 1, 2012
California judges are proving to be the biggest impediment to officials’ mandated efforts to reduce state prison populations. (Los Angeles Times)
An analysis of plans by California administration and prison officials to comply with a federal court order is faltering, partly because judges continue to sentence low-level felons to prison, rather than to county jails.
The objective has been to shave the numbers of prison inmates and lessen the impact of overcrowding by shifting low-threat prisoners to county and other local lockups by a deadline of June 30, 2013. According to the Times’ report, there will be about 7,000 more prisoners in state institutions than allowed on that date. The reduction aims to result in a total population of 112,032 inmates in prisons built to house 81,000.
California’s relatively harsh sentencing guidelines, by which judges are bound, have created a situation where inmates from California are shipped to out-of-state, for-profit prisons, at state taxpayer expense. This is a practice Gov. Jerry Brown has said he wants to halt.