CA Continues to Spend Taxpayer $$ on ‘Cages’ in New Budget, State Prison Critic Charges  

PC: curb-prisons.medium.com

By The Vanguard Staff

SACRAMENTO, CA –– California is “still prioritizing punishment driven systems as an answer to public safety with an overall Corrections budget of $18 billion,” charged critics of the state’s 2022-23 new prison budget Tuesday.

Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) praised attempts at criminal legal reform, but said “Corrections spending continues to increase. California is still prioritizing punishment driven systems as an answer to public safety with an overall Corrections budget of $18 billion, making a shift in priorities as urgent as ever.”

CURB said noted that “at a time when the cost of living for working people is skyrocketing, the Newsom administration and state Legislature would rather spend money on cages than increased care and community investment.”

The coalition cited “significant decline in prison population over the past decade,” that led to “Modest changes to the penal code led to the closure of Deuel Vocational Center (DVI) in 2021. Newsom has also pushed to close California Correctional Center (CCC) in Susanville, now delayed to June 2023 because of a legal battle with the town.”

“The Governor’s office demonstrated some affirmation of the demands of prison advocates with the addition of new language in the revised Corrections budget,” said CURB, quoting the governor, “Based on current projections that exhibit ongoing declines in the incarcerated population, and understanding that future policy changes may significantly affect long-range population projections, it may be possible to close three additional state prisons by 2024-25.”

“A statement in the budget that acknowledges the possibility of closing more prisons is important, but it does not go far enough. Failing to include a plan for additional prison closures in the enacted budget is a missed opportunity to save billions of dollars in the general fund,” said CURB.

“These funds could be invested in struggling communities ruled by roots in anti-Black racism and systemic inequality. Without both a concrete commitment and a plan for state-owned prison closure, we project that the prison population decline will not be met with necessary action.”

The state’s own nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, added CURB, produced a report in November of 2020 that “outlined at least $1.5 Billion annually in savings if California committed to closing five prisons by 2025, and has stated that California continues to be in a position to achieve this projection.”

CURB has released a roadmap it said could close at least 10 prisons across the state.

“Governor Newsom’s vision to create a California for all must reflect the will of the vast majority of Californians who continue to vote down draconian sentencing and reliance on prisons, and advocate for investments in a care-first centered approach to public safety. We’ve got to close more prisons in order to see real reductions in wasteful spending on Corrections, and we need the governor to make that common sense commitment in his next budget plan,” said Amber-Rose Howard, Executive Director of CURB.

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