Report: California Might Need More Time To Cut State Prison Population
Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) plan to shift inmates from state prisons to county jails will not ease overcrowding soon enough to comply with a federal court order, according to a report by the Legislative Analyst's Office, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Lagos, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/6).
The state faces a June 27, 2013, deadline to reduce the inmate population by 34,000. California plans to begin the transfer of inmates to county jails on Oct. 1 (Stanton, Sacramento Bee, 8/6).
Five years ago, a federal judge ruled thatÂ poor prison health care in California was leading to about 50 inmate deaths annually. A panel of three judges appointed a receiver to oversee health care and ordered the state to reduce its prison population.
State officials appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the high court ruled in May that California must reduce its number of prisoners from 143,500 to 110,000 by 2013. The state received a number of reduction targets, including a deadline of 10,500 fewer inmates by Dec. 27 (San Francisco Chronicle, 8/6).
Key Findings of Report
Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor's report noted that shifting 32,000 low-level offenders to county jails would help the state take steps to comply with the court order.
However, the report suggested "the realignment plan alone is unlikely to reduce overcrowding sufficiently within the two-year deadline" (McGreevy, Los Angeles Times, 8/6).
The report stated that California "has a strong case to make to the courts for a grant of more time to implement this complex realignment of responsibilities from the state to counties" (Sacramento Bee, 8/6).
The report also noted that state lawmakers could:
- Stop approving new prison construction projects until the Legislature determines whether the buildings would be needed after the state reduces its prison population; and
- Transfer inmates to private prisons outside California (Gabrielson, California Watch, 8/8).
Officials at the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation have not said whether they will seek a deadline extension.
Oscar Hidalgo, a department spokesperson, said the LAO report shows the agency has "put forward a good-faith effort" to follow the high court order (Sacramento Bee, 8/6).
On Friday, KQED's "California Report" reported on counties' efforts to prepare for the expected influx of prison inmates (Shafer, "California Report," KQED, 8/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.