CA Senate Approves Prison Reducing Measures

Bump and Update: The proposal passed the California Senate today. It provides for the release of 37,000 inmates over two years and "includes measures such as house arrest and easing penalties for some crimes.."

Original post: 8/19/09

CA Legislature Vote on Prison Reducing Measures

A vote could take place tomorrow in the California legislature on several measures that would reduce the prison state's vastly over-crowded prison population. The proposed reforms: [More...]

.... would allow some prisoners to serve the last 12 months of their sentences under house arrest, reclassify some property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors and create a new sentencing commission to examine how sentencing laws contribute to prison overcrowding.

Altogether, the proposal would cut the prison population by 27,000 over the next year, saving $1.2 billion, and 37,000 over the next two years.

While Republicans oppose the reforms, it is expected to pass. Gov. Shwarzenegger is on board:

"We must find a way to cut costs and relieve overcrowding without sacrificing public safety," Schwarzenegger said Wednesday at the California Institution for Men in Chino, where a major prison riot occurred earlier this month. "Not all criminals and not all crimes are created alike."

Other proposed reforms:

Under the measure up for a vote in the Legislature today, parolees who commit such transgressions would be subject to "alternative sanctions," such as GPS supervision, rather than being sent back to prison.

Other changes in the package including cutting active parole supervision to cover only the most serious offenders; cutting an unspecified number of positions at the Division of Juvenile Justice and at the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation headquarters; and giving inmates time-served credit for participating in rehabilitation programs.

....The plan would also establish a new commission to examine sentencing laws. Members would be appointed by the governor and the chief justice of the California Supreme Court. The commission would recommend new sentencing guidelines by July 2012, and those guidelines would take effect the following year unless rejected by the Legislature.

The court ordered CA last month to reduce CA's prison population by 40,000. Will this satisfy the court? It sounds like it's a good beginnning.

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    in the alternative, (none / 0) (#1)
    by cpinva on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 12:04:36 AM EST
    they could just classify all criminal offenses as capital, re-sentence all the current inmates to death, and have mass executions. it would reduce the surplus prison population, and i'd bet even money the republicans in the state legislature would vote for it en masse.

    just sayin'................

    but then (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jen M on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 07:31:38 AM EST
    all the people involved in that would be tried and convicted for crimes against humanity and then who would carry out the sentences?

    The prison guards union would (none / 0) (#13)
    by coigue on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 08:45:59 PM EST
    never go for it. They'd switch from funding victim's rights groups to funding prisoner's rights groups.

    They know what they need to do and won't do it (none / 0) (#3)
    by SeeEmDee on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 08:32:15 AM EST
    The majority of those incarcerated are there for drug law offenses. Most drug laws if not all of them were predicated on racial and ethnic bigotry, and all the stereotypes depending from them. The proof of this particularly foul pudding is in the vastly disproportionate number of minorities in prison as opposed to their numbers in society.

    Want to reduce prison population? Examine, evaluate and then scrap the racist drug laws. But most Dems are so weak-kneed and terrified of being hit with the canard of being 'soft on crime' that they'll never touch that.

    "soft on crime" is a lie (none / 0) (#16)
    by 1980Ford on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 01:39:44 AM EST
    Most people want reform.

    Who is Afraid of Early Releases and Non-Custodial Sentences?

    Not the American public, according to a study conducted by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.


    Sounds good (none / 0) (#4)
    by catmandu on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 12:34:43 PM EST
    It is ridiculous to put a nonviolent offender in
    jail to learn from violent offenders.  Put a
    homing bracelet on them and make them do some community service work.  
    Just leave the murderers, rapists, violent criminals, child molesters/abusers and the like in prison.
    However, a weekend in jail to show an offender what is ahead if they stay on the path of crime is cool.  

    And, Ahnold is on board? (none / 0) (#5)
    by MKS on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 07:10:12 PM EST
    So, there are some reasonable people left when it comes to criminal justice.

    Yeah... (none / 0) (#7)
    by kdog on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 08:08:32 PM EST
    it is amazing how going busto will slap some sense into a state.

    If Cali was allowed to just fire up the printers at the mint like in DC, I doubt we would be seeing this glimmer of reason.


    What about folks that have (none / 0) (#6)
    by nycstray on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 07:20:05 PM EST
    already served their time/or have old convictions?

    reclassify some property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors

    Going from a felony to a mis would sure help their future. Aka as we have an incoming family member who has a felony on his record from his drug days. I don't have all the details as I heard it for the first time the other night, but is there anything they can do?

    Check with knowledgeable criminal defense (none / 0) (#8)
    by oculus on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 08:25:21 PM EST
    attorney in the state of conviction.  Many states have statutory provision to petition trial court to expunge the judgment if conditions are met.  

    What is the CCPOA's position re this? (none / 0) (#9)
    by oculus on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 08:26:25 PM EST
    Less inmates, but probably no reduction in number of correctional officers?

    "Fewer" inmates! (none / 0) (#10)
    by Steve M on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 08:36:28 PM EST
    Welcome back :)

    If only I had graduated from MSU! (none / 0) (#11)
    by oculus on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 08:43:48 PM EST
    Thank God. (none / 0) (#12)
    by coigue on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 08:44:43 PM EST

    Thank the economy. (none / 0) (#14)
    by oculus on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 08:50:47 PM EST
    Thank Economy (none / 0) (#20)
    by coigue on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 12:28:59 PM EST
    It's about time. (none / 0) (#15)
    by mexboy on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:15:43 PM EST
    I'm doing a documentary on a man whose brother is serving a life sentence for pulling a knife on someone. He was a two striker and was constantly bullied and beaten for being gay. One day he fought back, pulled a knife, and now he is doing life!

    no, (none / 0) (#17)
    by cpinva on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 02:47:00 AM EST
    So, there are some reasonable people left when it comes to criminal justice.

    they just ran out of cash. guards don't work for free.

    ok, i've reconsidered my original alternative solution (see above), in light of the fine points made by other posters. hows this?:

    the gov. gets ICE to declare 37,000 CA prisoners illegal aliens, and has them deported, preferrably to another continent. whether or not they're illegally here is irrelevant, by the time their appeals hearing comes up, they'll be long gone.

    problem solved.

    Your just a champion... (none / 0) (#18)
    by kdog on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 08:58:19 AM EST
    of human rights lately cp:)

    You must be pissed at Dwight Lowery, my new sentimental favorite NY Jet.


    So, there's no fear... (none / 0) (#19)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 10:39:32 AM EST
    ...of new "crime waves" like there is here?

    Gov. Bill Ritter's plan to cut the state budget through inmate releases could reduce Colorado's prison population by 1,000 in a year and immediately save $19 million.

    It will also almost certainly accelerate the commission of new crimes, and could force layoffs from a privately run prison, experts said.

    Ritter's plan calls for trimming parole supervision for some inmates already out of prison, and releasing some non-sex-offender inmates early and placing them on parole. A total of 5,700 inmates or parolees could see their status change as a result of Ritter's cut.

    A Metropolitan State College of Denver professor says it's unavoidable that a large number of those prisoners or parolees will commit new crimes.

    "The recidivism rate in Colorado is between 40 and 60 percent within five years, depending on types of crimes," Metro State criminal justice professor Joseph Sandoval said. "I do think that the risk of release is that some will go on a crime spree and there may be a smaller amount that commit crimes that are heinous."

    Emphases added.

    release prisoners with medical problems! (none / 0) (#21)
    by diogenes on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 04:04:15 PM EST
    If you let out prisoners with AIDS, kidney failure, or other expensive-to-treat diseases, then instead of the state paying to treat them the feds will pay half (under medicaid) or all (medicare) or the prisoner will have no insurance at all.  Save lots of money.  
    I had a patient with severe medical problems who committed a crime on purpose to get arrested and get much needed medical care.