The landmark prison reform legislation signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on May 3, 2007, AB 900 authorized the temporary transfer of California inmates to out-of-state correctional facilities to ease inmate overcrowding. To date, the transfers have allowed prison officials to reduce the number of inmates sleeping in gymnasiums and dayrooms by more than 4,016 inmates.
"Using private facilities in other states has given us some breathing room to avoid a crisis and keeps our prisons running safely for our staff and inmates," said CDCR Secretary James Tilton. "Reducing the number of inmates sleeping in areas not designed for housing gives us critical space to provide rehabilitation programs that better prepares an inmate after they are released from prison."
As inmates move to the out-of-state facilities, CDCR officials have reduced these "bad beds," most of which were in triple bunk beds from 13 gymnasiums in eight prisons. CDCR also removed beds from dayrooms and TV rooms in six California correctional facilities.
The transfer of inmates first began in response to an Emergency Order issued by Governor Schwarzenegger in October 2006, at a time when CDCR officials were managing a record number of inmates, nearly 173,000, and projecting that the state's 33 prisons would run out of beds, essentially providing no room for newly convicted inmates. The program was stopped in November while the state's authority to move the inmates was challenged in lawsuits.
In May 2007, Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 900, The Public Safety and Offender Rehabilitation Act of 2007, that clarified the authority of CDCR to temporarily transfer up to 8,000 inmates to private facilities in other states for up to five years while more permanent reforms to enhance rehabilitation are put in place, such as the creation of reentry facilities for soon-to-be paroled inmates.
"This program has been very successful in allowing us to reduce the overcrowding in our prisons," said Scott Kernan, Chief Deputy Secretary for Operations for CDCR. "Our staff is working hard to ensure that safety and security are the primary focus during the transfers."
California inmates are housed in facilities operated by the Nashville-based Correctional Corporation of America under contract to CDCR. They include the West Tennessee Detention Center, the Florence and Red Rock correctional centers in Arizona, the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Mississippi and North Fork Correctional Facility in Oklahoma. A facility is currently being constructed in Arizona to accommodate California inmates. That facility is due to be opened in June.
"For more information on the transfer program and other reforms underway in California's prison system, visit CDCR's web site at AB 900 Prison Reforms: Achieving Results.
# # #