Response to Conference Committee on Corrections Budget (Deadline 3pm Tuesday)

Co-Chairs Assemblymember Skinner & Senator Leno

State Capitol

Sacramento, CA 94249

Fax: (916) 319-2115 & (916) 651-4911

Members of the Budget Conference Committee (BCC),

There are a number of key criminal justice proposals that will be debated over the next week and a half. We urge the Committee to take the following recommendations into consideration that will help California and its counties save money on corrections and reduce overcrowding in county jails.

STOP ALL PRISON & JAIL EXPANSION:

  • Do not direct any of the $500 million of lease revenue bond financing to county jail construction. The legislature has already allocated $1.7 billion for jail construction in the past several years. We need more community-based resources to respond to prison realignment and incentives to build “better” jails actually inhibit counties from pursuing cheaper and more effective strategies in the community.

o   The Senate rejected the Governor’s proposal to provide $500 million for jail construction bond financing by expanding the project criteria to include “transitional housing, day reporting centers, mental health treatment facilities, and substance abuse treatment facilities.” They also named county boards of supervisors as the applicants, instead of county Sheriffs. We believe this proposal is a step in the right direction, but that none of the bond financing should be available to build new jails and that all programs should be run by community-based organizations, not Sheriff’s departments.

  • Reject the proposal to extend the sunset on county contracts to outsource prisoners to other counties. This proposal only dis-incentivizes county sheriffs from creating sustainable solutions to reducing jail overcrowding, and creates more of a burden on people who want to visit their loved ones in jail.
  • Reject the proposal to allocate an additional $12.5 million to the California Correctional Healthcare Facility in Stockton.

REDUCE THE PRISON & JAIL POPULATION:

  • Implement mandatory split sentencing at the county-level. This practice has safely and dramatically reduced the jail population in model counties.
  • Expand the Alternative Custody Program. Adopt the Senate’s proposal to allow counties to develop alternative custody programs for people in both men and women’s jails. Additional recommendations to the proposed trailer bill language include:

o   An explicit timeline by which a person’s application for ACP must be considered, similar to the timeline created to consider medical parole applications.

o   A way to appeal the decision or reapply for the program.

o   Clarification that people cannot be denied release to ACP solely because of “prior medical or psychiatric conditions.”

o   Allocation of MediCal and/or realignment funds to cover ACP participants so that counties have an incentive to implement this alternative to incarceration.

o   Explicit language stating this program is geared to primary caregivers of children, which is outlined in the state program.

  • Adopt and expand items from the Recidivism Reduction Package based on the following recommendations of the Assembly Select Committee on Justice Reinvestment:

o   $10 million for Community Based Organizations operating programs that reduce recidivism in the community.

o   $10 million for Community Based Organizations operating programs that reduce recidivism in prisons and jails.

o   $9 million to repeal California’s lifetime ban on CalWORKs and CalFresh participation for people with drug felony convictions.

o   $300,000 to establish a clearinghouse/database of employers willing to hire people with felony convictions.

o   $1 million to restore past reductions to college programs provided in CDCR facilities.

  • Expand Proposed Parole Reforms. As recommended by both the Senate and Assembly, provide the necessary resources to implement the proposed expansion to medical parole, implement an elder parole program, and establish a parole process for non-violent second strikers who have served 50% of their sentence. In addition:

o   Further Expand Good-Time Credits. The proposal prospectively enhances the credit level from 20-33.3%, for second-strike prisoners with non-violent sentence. We propose making these credits retroactive and applying good time credits to a broader group of people in prison.

o   Further Expand the Elder Parole proposal to address the rapidly aging prison population and reduce the need for high cost medical beds. Expand the proposal to people who have served less than 25 years of their sentence and less than 60 years old.

o   Further Implement & Expand the Medical Parole proposal to eliminate the need for more high cost medical beds.

Please contact Emily Harris, CURB’s Statewide Coordinator at 510-435-1176 or Emily@curbprisonspending.org with any questions or concerns.

CC:

Assemblymember Bloom: (916) 319-2150

Assemblymember Weber: (916) 319-2179

Assemblymember Gorell: (916) 319-2144

Senator Lara: (916) 651-4933

Senator Nielson: (916) 651-4904