The People’s Response to Governor’s Corrections Budget  May Revise 2019

by Amber Rose Howard

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 10, 2019

 

The People’s Response to Governor’s Corrections Budget  May Revise

Calling for the end of prison and jail as state’s leading health & mental health care provider

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Amber-Rose Howard, Californians United for a Responsible Budget

amberrose@curbprisonspending.org or 909.717.8520

 

Sacramento — Thursday, May 09, Governor Newsom released California’s 2019-20 revised budget – a budget that increases total funding on corrections to $12.8 billion, up from $12.1  billion last year. The implementation of voter mandated criminal justice reforms like Proposition 57 and sentencing reform policies  like SB 1393 (Mitchell-2018) continue to influence the decrease in prison population, yet the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation budget continues to rise. California cannot afford to continue expanding the capacity of prisons and jails at the expense of health and human services.

While there is some healthy spending included in the budget, the increased capacity for health and mental health services inside California Prisons is still trending. The majority of CDCR’s budget goes to operations and health related services. While people who are incarcerated are deserving health treatments, prisons are not acceptable wellness or mental health facilities. Instead of wasting resources to stretch the span of destructive prisons, where individuals cannot be properly treated, there is an urgent need to reduce spending on corrections and increase community-based health and mental health related services so that people’s needs are addressed and they do not end up in a cage.

California Partnership is calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to renew his campaign commitments to end the unconstitutional money bail system in California that leaves tens of thousands of people languishing in jails each year before they are convicted of any crime because they cannot afford to get out of jail. Punishment of people for being poor must end. Provide social services, healthcare (including mental health), bridge housing, and permanent supportive housing for California’s homeless.” Maribel Nunez, California Partnership.

In addition to reforming pre-trial detention and full implementation of voter-mandated reforms, state legislators are still urgently concerned about California’s deadly prison and jail overcrowding and are pursuing further common sense sentencing reforms like SB 136 (RISE Act 2019) authored by Senator Scott Weiner. The RISE Act would repeal a 1-year enhancement for prior felony convictions which contributes to California’s legacy as having the worst racial disparities in incarceration than almost any state in the US, including southern states. In addition to the racist implications of re-punishment sentencing policies, experts believe these enhancements have contributed to jail and prison overcrowding, and do little or nothing to deter crime. By repealing sentencing enhancements for people who already served time for their past conviction, California can divest from expensive and ineffective policies of mass incarceration in order to invest in our communities.

“The budget is a value statement that shows us what our Governor and lawmakers at the state are prioritizing. When I see a budget with an increase in corrections spending, more jail beds and prison beds despite a drastic decrease in the prison population, I see a huge problem. We need to invest in anti-poverty wellness, housing and human services. State money belongs  to the people and we want our money now.” – Vonya Quarles, Starting Over Inc.

The people of California, progressive legislators and the CURB coalition believe that the appropriate response to looming budget threats is not more wasteful spending on policing and incarceration, but common sense reforms coupled with a reduction in corrections spending. California should continue to pursue aggressive parole and sentencing reform efforts and repeal all prison and jail expansion. View CURB’s complete overview of the corrections budget here.

 

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Amber Rose Howard


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