In 2007, California leaders agreed on a $7.9 billion plan to add 53,000 beds to the state and local corrections system and expand rehabilitation programs. It was delayed by the recession and after last year’s “realignment” in which the state shifted responsibility for thousands of low-level offenders to counties. Gov. Jerry Brown largely halted it in 2012, anticipating savings of about $4.1 billion in building costs, says the Sacraamento Bee, which analyzes the state of the California corrections system.
What is left of the prison-funding plan includes more than $1 billion to expand county jails. The state is likely to close a prison by 2016. Former Assemblyman Todd Spitzer believes “the state has seriously abdicated its responsibility” by not adding to prison capacity. Disagreeing is Donald Spector of the Prison Law Office, which represents interests: “Beds don’t reduce crime. The more effective use of money is to try to punish prisoners in other ways while you’re trying to correct their behavior so they don’t do it again.”