California Gov. Jerry Brown wants to cut state prison spending next fiscal year for the first time in nearly a decade, a departure from the goals of recent administrations, which increased corrections spending and pushed for prison expansion. the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Brown would save $1.1 billion on housing inmates and hundreds of millions more by halting some prison construction – savings largely due to his administration’s recent overhaul of the state’s criminal justice system.
General fund spending on prisons nearly doubled under Brown’s predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, from $5.2 billion in 2004 to $9.5 billion in 2011, when Brown took office. The increase in spending was largely caused by an exploding inmate population and a court order to improve medical care in prisons. “We’re knocking it down, and we’ll knock it down further,” Brown said of the prison budget. “A lot of the problems come from the fact that they built (too many) prisons in 20 years – it was too fast, they didn’t know what they were doing, and now we have to clean up that mess. We made good progress the first year.” The prison population is at 130,000, a decrease of 11,000 in six months.