Black Public Scholars

August 21, 2009

Prison Population Set to be Reduced in California

Filed under: african american politics, black politics, black scholars — Tags: — Staff @ 9:02 pm

A controversial bill that California legislators say would allow the early release of more than 27,000 inmates from crowded prisons will be taken up by the state Assembly on Monday.

Inmates at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, California, interact in a gym modified to house them in August 2007.

Inmates at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, California, interact in a gym modified to house them in August 2007.

The Senate on Thursday passed the corrections package 21-19, after Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, assured senators the changes would protect the public from the most violent offenders.

The legislation also would direct more resources toward parolees, he said.

Senate Republicans say the bill would undermine public safety. All 15 Senate Republicans voted against the measure.

Both houses of the legislature are controlled by Democrats.

Consideration of the bill comes as California faces a mid-September deadline for reducing itsprison population by about 40,000 inmates. A special panel of three federal judges issued the order, contending the crowded prison system violates prisoners’ constitutional rights.

The judges said they will make the reductions themselves if the state fails to act.

The measure would save the financially strapped state $524.5 million, according to a statement from Steinberg’s office.

When coupled with budget revisions that lawmakers made in July, the total corrections savings would be $1.2 billion, he said. That is the amount that Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants as part of his efforts to cut state spending and balance the budget.

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