In the final budget deal lawmakers sent to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the
prison system budget had zero cuts for the current year. And for 2009-10,
lawmakers simply gave up on their agenda to enact a reform package that would
help lower the state's prison population.
In their July conference committee budget, the Assembly and Senate had
included a number of reforms: adjusting the threshold for property crimes for
inflation, giving credit for good behavior, changing parole for nonviolent
crimes and, instead of automatic resentencing, giving judges discretion on
parole revocations. These changes would have saved the state more than $400
However, in the final deal, lawmakers adjusted prices for equipment and
eliminated a proposed increase in prison guard overtime.
They also reduced by 10% the budget of the federal prison health receiver,
who is charged with bringing California's prison medical system up to
In short, the prison system budget contained no reform whatsoever, and that
isn't wise given the massive cost overruns in California's corrections
Tax dollars, especially in this economy, should be targeted to protect public
safety and not given over to political sacred cows.
When the budget reached him, Schwarzenegger vetoed an unspecified $400
As he pins down details, we'd like the governor to recall his 2004
"Our prison population now is more than 167,000 people and still growing year
after year. If we imprisoned people at 1994 rates, we'd have 145,000 prisoners.
That is a doable goal. Our sentencing rules have doubled the number of aging
prisoners in just 10 years. We've now got more than 16,000 prisoners over the
age of 50. We're going to turn the tide of increased prison population. We're
going to show that California can reduce crime and downsize our prison
The prison system remains a prime area for cuts worth hundreds of millions of
dollars a year. That can be done without damaging public safety.
Why is it that California's prisons can get away with not operating