State will miss prisoner reduction deadline says report
August 8, 2011
• Says California needs to ask courts for more time
• Impacting future prison construction
Current state plans to reduce prison overcrowding to conform with a federal court order will fall short in meeting deadlines, according to a report from the nonpartisan Legislative Analysts Office.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in May requires the state to reduce overcrowding in its prisons to 137.5 percent of its “design capacity” within two years. That would mean moving about 34,000 felons out of state prisons in some fashion.
But a prison realignment plan that the Legislature recently enacted is unlikely by itself to reduce overcrowding sufficiently within the two-year deadline set by the court.
“This indicates to us that, as the U.S. Supreme Court suggested, a somewhat longer timeframe is warranted,” says Mac Taylor, legislative analyst. “In addition, we recommend that the Legislature consider how the overcrowding reduction will affect the types of prison facilities California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has planned to build. Finally, we recommend that the Legislature provide CDCR with more flexibility to use contract beds in order to manage overcrowding, particularly in the near term.”
Addressing these issues would help to better plan for a dramatically reduced state inmate population within the state’s current fiscal situation.
Under construction in Stockton is a new inmate hospital prison but it will not have a significant impact on overcrowding the report says.
“According to information provided to us by the department based on its current plan for … construction, the design capacity of the state’s prison system would increase by about 600 beds by July 2013 and by 13,500 beds by 2018,” says Mr. Taylor’s report.
“This means that the department’s current prison construction plan would likely have little impact on the state’s ability to comply with the … ruling in the next two years — although it could have a much larger impact in the longer term,” he writes.