Six months into a program of reforms designed to dramatically reduce the state’s prison population, the California Department of Corrections is scrambling to find bed space for thousands of inmates pouring into the system in record numbers, reports the Sacramento Bee. To accommodate the rising tide, the agency last month laid out an emergency housing plan expected to jam 2,500 prisoners into day rooms, classrooms and vocational shops closed earlier this year because of budget cuts. Prison officials call them “ugly beds,” and the new emergency measures for July and August will increase their total in the system to 12,000.
The measures come as a reform panel headed by former Gov. George Deukmejian is calling for elimination of the severely overcrowded sleeping arrangements under which 9,500 prisoners already are living. Top-level corrections managers are crossing their fingers and hoping the population increases will subside when new parole and pre-release programs they have launched in installments over the past nine months take hold. Meanwhile, buses full of fresh convicts keep rolling into Department of Corrections reception centers.