California could save more money in its current budget crisis by looking at the criminal justice system, says Barry Krisberg of the University of California Berkeley law school. Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Krisberg applauds Gov. Jerry Brown’s actions to reduce the state prison population significantly, but he says more can be done.
Returning the 9,500 prisoners now held out of state would save $300 million. Were the state to forgo plans to add 2,400 beds to the prison system, the state could avert more than $810 million in capital expenditures and its accompanying $76 million a year in debt service costs. he says. Krisberg suggests seven other possible changes, including shifting current state inmates to local programs, “a very modest program of accelerated release into supervision” for low-risk inmates with no serious disciplinary infractions, and “modest reform of the three-strikes law” allowing some low-risk inmates to be paroled slightly sooner.