Sacramento – Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. on Wednesday signed into law an historic reform of California’s penal system. Known as the blueprint, the plan will cut billions in spending, comply with multiple federal court orders for inmate medical, mental health and dental care, and significantly improve the operation of California’s prison system. The Governor’s approval of the blueprint follows its release by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) in April and its approval by the State Legislature yesterday.
The multi-year plan for CDCR will cut billions in spending, enable the State to comply with multiple federal court orders concerning inmate health care, and significantly improve the operation of California’s prison system.
“We appreciate the confidence of the Legislature in our plan for a safer and more efficient correctional system,” said CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate. “The passage of our blueprint will show the federal courts that California is serious about ending the long-standing lawsuits overseeing much of our operations.”
Highlights of the CDCR blueprint include:
· Spending less taxpayer money on prisons. The operational General Fund budget of CDCR falls next year to $8.55 billion, nearly half-a-billion dollars less than the current year. When the blueprint is fully implemented, CDCR’s budget will fall by more than $1.5 billion.
· Improving and expanding health care facilities and rehabilitative programming. CDCR has achieved and will maintain constitutional levels of medical, mental health and dental care, thus ending the significant cost of litigation and court oversight.
· Building and staffing a more efficient prison system. CDCR is changing its staffing levels and ratios to take into account the falling inmate population. In the 2012-13 budget, CDCR also gets authority to start work on more cost-effective prison housing. Infill projects will replace California Rehabilitation Center, and old and costly prison in Norco to be closed by 2016.
Many of the improvements in California prisons are due to the reduction in overcrowding made possible by Public Safety Realignment signed into law by Governor Brown last year. Since Realignment took effect, CDCR’s offender population has dropped by approximately 23,000 inmates. Overcrowding has been reduced from a high of more than 200 percent of design capacity to approximately 152 percent today. These declines are projected to continue through further implementation of Public Safety Realignment.
The blueprint, titled “The Future of California Corrections,” can be read at www.cdcr.ca.gov.