Spending for California’s prison system, the nation’s largest, will rise slightly with a new state budget plan, up approximately $349 million as the inmate population crests in the coming year, reports the Associated Press. The budget provides $5.6 billion in state funds for 32 state prisons and 37 camps housing approximately 162,000 inmates. The budget funds a prison system in turmoil after a year of investigations, scandals, and cost overruns. It includes nearly $5 million to expand the Office of the Inspector General and create an Office of Independent Review to oversee investigations. Nearly $2 million will improve the department’s internal employee disciplinary process.
A major report commissioned by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called the system – once a national model – “dysfunctional” – and suggested scrapping the agency that oversees it, curbing power of wardens, and overcoming a code of silence that protects abusive guards. Schwarzenegger, who promised to save $477 million in the systems, fell short. The governor hoped to win $300 million in concessions from prison guards getting a 37 percent, $1 billion pay raise over five years, negotiations with the California Correctional Peace Officers Association produced only $63 million in savings for the new budget.