Tuesday, August 22, 2006

National Study on Female Incarceration Supports Female Reentry Reform Efforts by CDCR During Special Session

The National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) issued a Special Report, "Reducing the Incarceration of Women: Community-Based Alternatives," Monday that supports Governor Schwarzenegger's female offender reform proposals.

Legislative members and representatives from a number of state and national women's and children's advocacy groups joined Assembly Member Sally Lieber and CDCR Secretary (A) James Tilton today in a call for immediate and swift action by the Legislature on this issue.

According to the NCCD report, the council supports the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s recent proposed expansion of community corrections and reentry facilities for female offenders that are now being discussed by the State Legislature in the Special Session on Prison Reform.

"This report provides compelling evidence that too many female offenders in the state today have too few opportunities for rehabilitation and may not be appropriately placed when sentenced by the county courts to state prison," Tilton said. "The report makes a number of recommendations that are worthy of consideration as the Legislature debates these reforms and our initiative for female offender reentry."

Representatives and groups supporting the report recommendation, as well as the reform proposal include: Assembly Members Rudy Bermudez and Todd Spitzer; California State Commission on the Status of Women; California NOW (National Organization for Women); California State NAACP; National Center for Youth Law; National Council on Crime and Delinquency and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

"There is bi-partisan support for female offender reform," said Assembly Member Rudy Bermudez. "With the Little Hoover Commission report and the ongoing support of our community partners, the clock is ticking."

"Let's pass this legislation because as a public policy issue it makes good common sense," said Assembly Member Todd Spitzer.

"This is a modest but important step in a pressing environment," said NAACP spokesperson James Sweeney.

"This is designed to have maximum impact on our female offender population, and we wholeheartedly support it," said Curt Child, representing the National Center for Youth Law."

Governor Schwarzenegger's proposal would authorize the CDCR to contract with community service organizations to provide as many as 4,500 beds in residential, low-security settings so that female inmates could receive more rehabilitative programming while serving their sentences closer to their families rather than in existing prisons which are located in remote areas.

The proposal is intended to provide the types of rehabilitation programming that reduce the occurrence of repeat crimes in a setting that strengthens family ties by making it easier for spouses and children to have regular contact with inmates. That stability is a key factor identified by criminology experts in motivating inmates and parolees to resume a constructive life.

The movement of female inmates to these facilities also could provide up to 4,500 beds that have the potential to ease over-crowding among male inmates, a primary issue to be addressed in the Legislative Special Session.
The report can be downloaded from the following website:
http://www.nccd-crc.org/

For more information on the prison reform proposals, click here.