By The Vanguard Staff
SACRAMENTO, CA – Prison closure advocates Tuesday called for a “concrete roadmap” to the closing of more California prisons following the release of the state’s budget submitted by Gov. Gavin Newsome “failed” to provide the plan.
“More prison closures must happen in California,” said Amber-Rose Howard, executive director of Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), adding, “We’re calling on the legislature and Gov. Newsom to adopt such a roadmap, directly informed by the community.”
Howard chided the governor and state lawmakers, noting, “What’s missing is a concrete roadmap for how California can close more prisons successfully and shift billions in cost savings away from wasteful prison spending and toward the communities most impacted by incarceration, including towns where prisons will be closed.”
In response to the budget’s release, the Close California Prisons campaign announced an online rally for later this week, “demanding that the administration and state legislature adopt a community-informed roadmap to close at least seven more prisons by 2025 as part of this year’s budget process.”
Prison closure advocates admitted, “California has made progress towards reducing its sprawling prison system but more must be done.”
“Despite the significant decrease in the state prison population, down 6.6 percent from spring 2022 projections, the 2023-24 proposed budget for corrections has increased another half a billion dollars,” explained Howard.
Howard added, “With projections indicating a prison population decline to 87,295 in 2025-26, the state should be making cuts to CDCR’s budget and redirecting investments to community infrastructure.
“The budget’s investments in positive programming for incarcerated people are important, but the state must focus on life-affirming investments within the community in order to sustain reduced reliance on prisons and to increase public safety.”
CURB noted that in December, the “California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) announced that Chuckawalla Valley State Prison (CVSP) in Riverside County will close by March 2025. CVSP recently experienced water well failure and as many as 250 incarcerated people are being immediately evacuated.”
The coalition added, “a $32 million lease on CDCR-staffed California City Correctional Facility (CAC) will not be renewed in 2024. CDCR pledged that the state would work to support local communities impacted by prison closures with an economic resiliency plan, and that facilities in six other state-owned prisons would shut down.”
Additionally, Deuel Vocational Institution (DVI) was shuttered on Sept. 30, 2021. California Correctional Center (CCC) in Susanville––a six-decade-old facility requiring $503 million in repairs–– must close by June 30, 2023.
“Newsom’s budget for last year enshrined the longstanding possibility that at least three additional prisons could close by 2025…to best accomplish this goal, identifying which prisons to close next and how best to do so must be prioritized in the administration’s 2023-24 agenda,” stated Prison closure advocates.
CURB said the state’s nonpartisan “Legislative Analyst’s Office produced a report in 2020 that outlined at least $1.5 billion annually in savings if California committed to closing five prisons by 2025.”
CURB’s released an analysis outlining savings from closing 10 prisons, detailing “approximately a $1.3 billion reduction in infrastructure and capital outlay spending and an additional $1.5 billion in prison operating expenses annually.”
CURB) is a “Black-led statewide coalition of more than 80 grassroots organizations. Our three point mission is to reduce the number of incarcerated people in California; reduce the number of prison and jails in our state; and shift wasteful spending away from incarceration and toward healthy community investments.”