Senate Budget Vote A Step Towards Funding Alternatives, Not Jails 

For Immediate Release – May 9, 2014
Contact: Emily Harris, Californians United for a Responsible Budget – 510-435-1176

Sacramento – Yesterday, the Senate Budget subcommittee on corrections voted 3-0 opposing Governor Brown’s budget proposal to grant an additional $500 million in lease revenue bond financing to counties to expand their jails and instead voted 2-1 to provide this additional bond financing for county construction projects “designed to provide rehabilitative services and housing for individuals convicted of crimes.” These projects can include, but are not limited to, transitional housing, day reporting centers, mental health and substance abuse treatment facilities and jails.
“Yesterday’s vote was a small but important step in using realignment as an opportunity to find and fund real alternatives to the current disaster of mass incarceration,” said Diana Zuñiga Statewide Field Organizer for Californians United for a Responsible Budget.
The proposal to offer counties $500 million for jail construction would have been the third year such funds have been given and would have increased the total given to counties for jail construction to $1.7 billion.
During the hearing the Chair of the Senate Budget Subcommittee Loni Hancock argued that California needs to “maximize alternatives” and said, “we do not want to replicate our prison system jail by jail.”
Anti-poverty budget advocates were also in attendance at Thursday’s hearing, including Pete Woiwode of the California Partnership. “We have the opportunity to make a sharp turn away from the failed policy of warehousing people with problems in prisons and jails,” said Woiwode. “Let’s be honest. As long as our leadership is offering money to expand jails or prisons, there won’t be the political will or the funding to restore the $15 billion dollars of cuts made to the social safety net or the ability to build and sustain alternatives to incarceration or anti-poverty programs that are proven to reduce recidivism.”
On Wednesday, May 14th, advocates across the state will rally in response to the Governor’s May Budget Revise to call for a final end to the $500 million in jail expansion money outlined in this year’s budget, and investment in education and health and human services.  Press conferences and rallies will take place in  Sacramento, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Fresno, San Bernardino, Bakersfield and Los Angeles.
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