California’s Prison Reduction Plan Will Overburden Counties; Misses the Mark


by the Justice Policy Institute –

The Justice Policy Institute (JPI) released a fact sheet today laying out reasons why the proposed California Community Corrections Act of 2010 is misguided and deeply flawed. The bill would move people serving sentences of less than three years from state prisons to already crowded county jails, shifting the costs to local counties that are already facing budget shortfalls. The grant funding available to counties for this move would not cover the costs of increased incarceration, but may create incentives for counties to incarcerate more people rather than to utilize alternatives to incarceration, like probation, since funding is based on the number of people held for the state.


JPI’s fact sheet, Shifting the Problem, notes that, on the heels of a recent court order to reduce the number of people in prison by 40,000, the state is moving in the right direction by examining different ways to reduce its prison population. This proposed legislation, however, would do more harm than good, and is not a solution to the continuing problem of over-incarceration in California; the state’s prison growth even outpaces its population growth.

“California’s prisons and jails are already beyond capacity; many of those warehoused are people who are not violent and should be returned to their communities, not moved to another jurisdiction,” said Tracy Velázquez, executive director of JPI. “Counties will bear the burden as people are sent to local jails for years.”

Velázquez added, “The current budget situation calls for smart fiscal choices; the state would be wiser to invest in more cost-effective alternatives to incarceration that support people in their communities.”

The fact sheet calls for increasing access to parole, including medical parole for those with physical or mental health conditions, improving parole practices so fewer people are returned to prison and increasing access to treatment.

To read the full fact sheet, Shifting the Problem, CLICK HERE. For a more information, please visit our website at

The Justice Policy Institute (JPI) is a Washington, D.C.-based organization dedicated to reducing society’s use of incarceration and promoting just and effective social policies.


About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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4 thoughts on “California’s Prison Reduction Plan Will Overburden Counties; Misses the Mark”

  1. wesley506

    Maybe if the counties were made responsible for some of the direct costs of housing some of the inmates they sentence, they might put pressure on some of the local judges to get serious about actually making cheaper and more effective alternatives like drug courts and behavioral courts work.

    As it is now they can be tough on crime and sentence mentally ill petty cheese thieves to long prison sentences, tack on gang enhancements for every gang member that hits someone, and charge every drug abuser arrested for possession with drug trafficking enhancements.

    Both behavioral court and drug court have worked very well in San Francisco, and have saved the county tons of money, and have broken the recidivism cycle for many.

  2. debjeff051510

    Lets start by “looking in our own backyard”. Yolo County will waste time and taxpayers money on a long and lengthy trial for petty offenses. Quoted by a lawyer in the Public Defenders office in Yolo County. Yolo County is known for not running cases concurrent to other counties. So if a person is convicted of petty theft in Yolo County gets released until trial and gets arrested in Sacramento County for another petty theft if the person is convicted and sentenced to 16 months state prison in Sacramento and then transferred to Yolo County they will not run the person time concurrent with Sacramento. They would recieve 1/3 the middle term of 2 years and do an extra 8 months on top of the 16 months. The problem is that if it were reversed Sacramento County would run it concurrent. WHY?????? The judges and prosecuters all went to the same law schools so why is it an unwritten “rule” in Yolo County. Maybe the Supreme Court should take a look at some of these issues. What does Yolo County hope to accomplish with this unwritten policy?

  3. Alexifa

    The United States Supreme Court has instructed Calif. authorities to reduce drastically over-crowded jail populations. Governor Brown’s current administration responded Tuesday, saying its strategy to move some inmates to neighborhood jails will solve the dilemma. But the cash to do so remains stalled by state lawmakers. Here is the proof: Calif. Lawmakers stall plans to reduce prison crowding, ([url][/url]). An advantage for safety and security.

  4. GregoryS

    We are comparing far too many apples to oranges here. Yes the gyms and day rooms are crowded but this is a lawyer get rich scheme. Once CDCR fell under federal recievership and appointed legal oversight under the guise of Armstrong, Plata, etc all the money that could be going to housing and health care went to the pockets of the attorneys. Although we are lacking, illegal aliens and those who could be defined as regular street criminals have to fear about being inside. Why? They 3 hots, a cot, and get to hang out with their buddies watching the time pass while pretending to be someone. Although shanty, the medical, mental health, dental, eye, counseling, is far better than anything available on the street or would ever strive to achieve themselves. They are only complaining because it is convenient to do so and can get more priveledges while pretending that they are suffering. Meanwhile within a month of being let out, they are so distraught about their prison life, over 60% are out using drugs, stealing, assaulting, and robbing. The rest are back within 2 years. Then, once they are caught, the crocodile tears begin again.

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