To some experts, the 11-hour riot Aug. 8 at the California Institution for Men in Chino was an inevitable consequence of a state prison system long hobbled by massive overcrowding, program cuts, and understaffed facilities, says Time magazine. Given the state’s budget woes – with $1.2 billion in cuts mandated to the prison budget – the situation is likely to get worse.
“The overcrowding is the first issue,” says Barry Krisberg, president of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. “You’re talking about hundreds of men moved into triple bunks in what used to be gyms and cafeterias. They’re not even cells. They’re just empty places where we’re shoving people.” Budget cuts will force the state to cut half of the already depleted programs for rehabilitation, substance abuse, and vocational training. That would spell disaster, says former state corrections director Jeanne Woodford. “We release 10,000 [prisoners] a month now and in that 10,000 very few have been involved in anything to improve who they are as human beings. That should scare us.”