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March 14, 2007



Art, come back. We need a parody of this.


Unbelievable!!!! More prisons???????? Sure why not? let's have one on every corner genius! Lock'em up is the only solution right? reform? drug rehab? job training? Apparently its just cut and dry for some people...

richard mckone

The State has released almost no facts about prison overcrowding, possibly because facts show that more county jail beds, not prison beds, are needed. The state only implies extensive overcrowding by reporting that prisons are operating at over 200% of "design capacity”[1]. The actual prison bed shortage is 16,600 beds according to the Legislative Analysist[2]. The real correctional bed shortage is at the county level with a shortage of 60,000 county jail beds[3], resulting in a shift of short term offenders to prison where they occupy 30,000 to 40,000 beds, causing prison overcrowding.

The total county jail bed shortage probably approaches 100,000 beds. The proposed additional 13,000 jail beds will not come close to meeting jail bed space need. Dealing with the county jail bed shortage would eliminate prison overcrowding. If, as is likely, the additional requested prison beds are constructed and other proposed changes are implemented, there will be a prison bed surplus of 32,000 beds by 2012 according to the Legislative Analysist[4].

What is actually going on? It is known that the Governor’s top aids met with CCPOA representatives prior to the election. The meetings may be the reason no planning document showing a “normal” analysis of the correctional system has been released. It is unprecedented and obviously irrational to propose correctional facility construction without analysis. The construction program will apparently proceed regardless of the consequences.

[1] Design Capacity does not indicate capacity based on American Correctional Association nationally recognized standards requiring single cells “for inmates assigned to maximum custody” (i.e. DC&R classification of Level IV inmates).

[2] See Adult Corrections, LAO FY 2007-08 budget analysis.

[3] The approximate total of the jail bed shortage reported by the Sheriffs Association in Do the Crime, Do the Time? Maybe Not, in California (California State Sheriffs’ Association, June 2006), at http://www.calsheriffs.org/Documents/do_the_crime,_do_the_time.pdf plus the 30,000 to 40,000 prison beds occupied by offenders serving less that a year in prison.

[4] See Adult Corrections, LAO FY 2007-08 budget analysis.

Rich McKone

You might be pleased to learn two facts: Prison overcrowding can be eliminated for $1.5 billion; and $6.2 billion can be saved by not building 40,000 unneeded prison beds.

Prison overcrowding and the very high parole revocation rates are simple system problems with the same cause - a long term, massive county jail bed shortage . Both problems are eliminated if the state funds both construction and operating costs for 16,600 county jail beds to house offenders now serving short terms in prison due to the jail bed shortage. Also, the state would realize savings of up to $.5 billion in annual prison operating costs and a substantial prison bed surplus would develop as parole revocation rates declined.

Prior to the county jail bed shortage; parolees charge with less serious or purely technical parole violations were routinely held in county jail until a local program could be developed. Severe jail overcrowding necessitated transfer to prison for violation disposition which almost always meant a revocation term served in prison. This factor caused California to have by far the highest parole violation rate of any large state.

You might not be real happy with the fact that our leaders have no intention of following this money saving approach but instead are committed to spending $6.5 billion to build 40,000 prison beds even though more prison beds are not needed. Why? That is a really good question you should ask your elected representatives.

Rich McKone, Executive Officer, California Coalition on Corrections, Parole Agent III, Retired, DC&R, Former Criminal Justice Planner, California Council on Criminal Justice & California Youth Authority

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