California Passes “Prison Lite” Reform Plan


The California legislature has given final approval to a plan cutting the state’s giant prisons budget. It will reduce the inmate population by thousands but stop far short of solving the overcrowding crisis, the Los Angeles Times reports. It would also leave California’s budget with $200 million in red ink. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger intends to sign the measure nonetheless. It will reduce supervision of low-level offenders on parole so they could not be sent back for violating terms of their release. It would allow some offenders to earn shorter terms by completing rehabilitation programs. Legislative officials estimated that the prison population would fall by 20,000 to 25,000 over two years.

The bill no longer contains provisions passed by the Senate that would have moved thousands of inmates to home detention and created a commission with the power to change state sentencing laws. Sen. Gloria Romero called the final bill “prison lite,” although she voted for it, and declared: “What’s not in the bill is a resolution and solution to this prison crisis.”

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