Fact Sheet: More Rehabilitation, Fewer Victims
More than 97 percent of inmates in California’s prisons will be eligible for parole someday, meaning almost everyone who goes into prison eventually gets out. California’s 70 percent recidivism rate means that thousands of offenders return to our already overcrowded prisons—and that thousands of individuals and communities are victimized and revictimized every year. Rehabilitation is the key to ending this criminal cycle. The historic prison agreement (AB 900) struck on April 25, 2007 by legislative leaders and Governor Schwarzenegger significantly expands rehabilitation services to increase public safety and reduce crime.
This agreement ties rehabilitation to all 53,000 beds.
The $7.7 ($7.4 bonds/$350 General Fund) billion prison reform agreement will provide 53,000 prison and jail beds in two phases. Rehabilitation services—like substance abuse treatment, mental health services and vocational education—will accompany all new bed construction.
16,000 beds provide intensive rehabilitation just before parole.
Secure Re-Entry Facilities, small correctional centers built in local communities, are the legislation’s rehabilitation centerpiece. The legislation funds 16,000 new beds in these centers to provide focused rehabilitation in the critical few months just before offenders are paroled. Programs will include: job training and placement; GED coursework; anger management classes; family counseling; and housing placement.
* Currently 60,000 California inmates are serving the final 0-3 years of their sentences. Without rehabilitation, these offenders will leave prison with nothing more than $200 and a bus ticket.
* Re-entry is about accountability. Offenders considered for re-entry facilities must demonstrate commitment to becoming a productive citizen. Offenders will be offered specific counseling, programs and services to support this choice. Failure to participate will result in removal from the program.
* Re-entry facilities won’t bring offenders to our communities—because they’re already here. By law, inmates are already returned to their county of last legal residence. These offenders are coming back to our cities and towns whether they’re rehabilitated or not.
* Re-entry facilities will help inmates succeed after prison. Every re-entry facility will be designed to reduce recidivism, and every participating offender will have an individual plan to maximize their chances for parole success.
* Communities will be involved in every stage. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is already in negotiations with more than 20 counties and cities that are interested in housing re-entry facilities. These agreements will be negotiated by county sheriffs and county administrative officers, and are subject to board of supervisor approval. Counties that agree to house re-entry facilities will receive preference in funding to expand and improve local jails.
16,000 “infill” beds make room for rehabilitation in our prisons.
The legislation adds 16,000 beds inside of existing prisons. This expansion will let CDCR move inmates out of bad beds and into permanent housing, enhancing staff safety. “Bad beds” are bunks housed, as a result of overcrowding, in prison gymnasiums, dayrooms, libraries and other spaces that once provided rehabilitation services.
* Infill beds are a top priority. All 16,000 new infill beds are scheduled to be constructed within the next 18 to 24 months.
* 4,000 beds (2,000 in prison and 2,000 aftercare beds) will be devoted to drug treatment. CDCR’s Division of Substance Abuse Programs serves over 10,000 inmates and parolees. These programs reduce drug and alcohol addiction and the massive costs associated with drug-related crime.
National experts are helping CDCR build the most effective programs.
A panel of national experts is currently working with CDCR to strengthen the agency’s rehabilitation programs. The panel will issue recommendations early this summer to help CDCR lower recidivism, access current efforts, and identify best practices and evidence-based programs to lower recidivism rates. The panel also will assist local government and law enforcement deal with paroled offenders. CDCR will use these recommendations to develop more effective programs and strengthen collaboration with local communities.
© 2006 State of California
Taxpayers for Improving Public Safety wrote:
You will be happy to know that due to ongoing discussions with the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, they have agreed to (and are advocating for), the removal of connection fees presently collected on every collect phone call from an institution.
This means several dollars will be saved on every inmate collect call.
While it is not yet final, the request has been submitted to the Senate Budget Committee, Sub-Committee 4, to be considered with all other budget items. The competition for dollars is fierce, and many lawmakers will not like giving up millions of dollars (especially for inmate families), but this request is a substantial positive step foward and TiPS will do all it can to keep this issue alive.
Judges consider prison population cap
Tom Chorneau, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau
Thursday, June 28, 2007
(06-28) 04:00 PDT Sacramento — A pair of federal judges considered imposing a population cap on the state’s troubled prison system on Wednesday — an order that could result in the early release of thousands of California’s 170,000 prisoners.
In a joint hearing, U.S. District Judges Lawrence Karlton of Sacramento and Thelton Henderson of San Francisco heard arguments on the proposal, which has been offered as a means of solving the state’s overcrowded prison system.
The judges, who are presiding over separate, long-running cases involving inmate abuse, both seemed at times to embrace the population cap idea although they did not issue a ruling Wednesday. A written order is expected in the coming days or weeks.
Karlton, who is overseeing a decadelong lawsuit over the state’s failure to provide care to mentally ill inmates, was critical of the Legislature and the Schwarzenegger administration for their inability to address the overcrowding problem. But he also said the idea of a population cap was “very radical” and may not be acceptable given the number of inmates it could affect.
“There’s been no evidence of change,” he said. “At some point something has got to change.”
At issue is control over the state’s prison system, which has an inmate population nearly double the capacity it originally was designed for. Inmate advocates have argued that overcrowding makes it almost impossible for prisons to adequately provide health care to the general population and provide services to inmates who have mental health problems.
In some prisons, inmates sleep outside or on floors. Attorneys for inmates have said that California inmates have a suicide rate twice that of the rest of the nation, due in part to overcrowding.
In response, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders passed a $7.4 billion prison expansion program in May that will add 40,000 new prison beds and 13,000 new county jail beds.
Attorneys representing the state at Wednesday’s court hearing told the judges that they needed more time to put the building program into motion.
Bill Maile, a spokesman for Schwarzenegger, said the governor remains optimistic that the judges will not order a population cap — which the administration believes will result in the early release of inmates.
“The governor has consistently said that releasing dangerous prisoners early is not a solution to prison overcrowding, ” Maile said. “A prison cap will not solve the problems identified by the plaintiffs in these cases.”
Don Specter, director of the Prison Law Office in Marin County and who represents clients in the case, said a population cap will not necessarily result in early inmate release.
“You can also prevent more people from coming into the system — a lot of the inmates are from parole violations,” he said. “There’s a lot of discretion about who you send to prison.”
Specter noted that other states, including Texas and New York, are decreasing their prison populations without creating public safety problems.
A study that Schwarzenegger commissioned in 2004, and which was conducted by a committee headed by former Gov. George Deukmejian, found that the state’s prison system could safely hold about 137,000 inmates.
Some analysts have suggested that a population cap would result in the release of about 35,000 inmates.
E-mail Tom Chorneau at tchorneau@sfchronic le.com.
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