Friday, March 2, 2007

CDCR Secretary James E. Tilton Tours L.A. County Prison to Highlight the Urgent Need for Reform

Nearly 450 Inmates at CSP-Los Angeles Currently Double- and Triple-Bunked in Gymnasiums and Dayrooms

LANCASTER - California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) Secretary James E. Tilton toured California State Prison-Los Angeles County today with Warden W.J. Sullivan to highlight the urgent need for comprehensive prison reform.

"California's prison system is in the midst of a severe overcrowding crisis," said Secretary Tilton. "With more than 171,000 inmates, we have been forced to house more than 17,000 inmates on double- and triple-bunks in gymnasiums, dayrooms, and other spaces not intended for housing."

CSP-Los Angeles currently houses 4,305 inmates with nearly 450 inmates living in temporary "emergency" beds in dayrooms, gymnasiums and classrooms. These areas are designed for much needed rehabilitative activities.

"This severe overcrowding places inmates and prison staff at risk, and impacts our ability to provide rehabilitation programs to those who could benefit from them the most," said Secretary Tilton. "The Governor has proposed a comprehensive prison reform package that provides much needed space in our prisons for programs that will better equip inmates for a crime-free life after their incarceration. The causes of our prison overcrowding crisis are complex, and the solutions proposed by the Governor are comprehensive. Lawmakers must take action to ensure that inmates are not prematurely released before they have served their time."

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's prison reform proposals helps strengthen public safety by building and modernizing correctional facilities, reforming California's parole and sentencing structures, and putting resources in place to implement Jessica's Law. They also call for placing some low-level inmates and juvenile offenders in county facilities, closer to local support systems and family members.

These proposals are designed to relieve overcrowding and keep the most violent offenders behind bars by adding 78,000 beds in state prisons and local jails. It will also provide the space needed for education, rehabilitative programs, and medical, dental and mental health care. This comprehensive package will address California's high recidivism rates by doubling funding for programs to help offenders with drug treatment, job training and housing assistance.

"Governor Schwarzenegger is advancing urgently-needed prison reforms as part of the state budget, which is expected to be voted on by this summer," said Secretary Tilton. "With courts threatening to take over the prison system and considering forcing the early release of inmates, the time for action is upon us."

View More on Governor Schwarzenegger's Comprehensive Reform Proposal at: http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/News/PrisonReform.html