Prison Housing Bill Signed by California Governor
Posted: Wednesday, September 25th, 2013 at 11:46 am
Jerry Brown [D], Governor of California continues to stir up controversy regarding the Prison Crowding Bill (SB-105) that was recently signed into legislation. Brown just passed the Aseembly hurdle approving the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for $315 million in funding to reduce the California Prison Population to the Federal Court designated requirement of 137.5% of capacity. According to current statistics, many California jails are holding an inmate capacity of 200% or more. This amounts to a required shrinkage of roughly 9,600 inmates over the course of the next year. Governor Brown has been butting heads with the Senate for some time now as their priority has a focus on rehabilitation and improving mental health treatment to avoid repeat offenders which add to the overwhelming current state of Prison overpopulation.
Legal battles stem all the way back to 2006 in the Supreme Court when it was brought to light the deplorable living conditions and healthcare that California Prisoners were subject to. It was argued that the environments bordered on cruel and unusual punishment which is a direct violation of the Constitutional rights of the inmates. California Prisoners even made national news when they unified in a shocking hunger strike to demonstrate their protest for the horrifying conditions. Two specific inmate cases: Plata v. Brown, and Coleman v. Brown that were brought before a panel of 3 federal judges paved the way for the changes that are now coming about.
With bi-partisan fury acting as a roadblock in the Senate, there had been heated back and forth discussion on the suggestion to free over 10,000 prisoners by releasing them early before they finish their sentence. Governor Brown had expressed his lack of support for this option and believes it would be a threat to Public Safety if executed. One compromise that will effectively be put into action, is the transfer of thousands of inmates to county prisons and larger private jails to spread out the numbers and reduce overall population in high density prisons. Even with this compromise in the wing, there are still concerns being raised over the level of training that prison guards have among State vs. Private facilities and whether the lesser trained Private guards can handle the offenders being shipped to them.
Revealed at the September 11th Press Conference, the SB-105 Bill passed the Senate with flying colors with a 35-2 vote. Brown is expected to deliver an update for the Federal Judges on the status of the legislation the week of September 16th.