Sacramento – Secretary Scott Kernan with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) formally announced that the Department has published regulations for Proposition 57 – The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016. The regulations can be viewed at https://oal.blogs.ca.gov/files/2017/03/2017-0324-01EON.pdf
“Last November, California voters overwhelmingly passed Prop. 57, by 64 percent to 35 percent. The Proposition required us to promulgate regulations establishing a non-violent parole process and credit earning criteria in the best interest of public safety. I believe we have done that with the regulations as the new processes put a greater responsibility on the inmates to participate in meaningful programs and earn their release. That is the spirit of Prop. 57,” said Secretary Kernan.
It is anticipated that the new law will help the Department establish a durable solution to comply with the Federal court-ordered population cap of 137.5 percent of design capacity without having to rely on court-ordered inmate releases. Without the passage of Prop. 57, the state prison population is projected to continue to increase and it is possible that without additional population reduction measures the Department would approach or exceed design capacity in the next 18-24 months.
If that were to occur, a Court Compliance Officer would have the authority to release inmates to allow CDCR to stay under the cap. The implementation of Prop. 57 and other population-reduction measures will allow CDCR to remove all inmates from one of two remaining out-of-state facilities in 2017-18.
As the impact of Prop. 57 grows, the Department anticipates returning all inmates from leased out-of-state facilities by 2020. Currently, there are approximately 4,300 inmates housed outside of California.
By passing Prop. 57, voters tasked CDCR with the responsibility of promulgating regulations to provide for inmates to earn credits if they complete approved rehabilitative programs and activities. Good Conduct Credit, Milestone Completion Credit, and Rehabilitative Achievement Credit will be applied prospectively and will be phased-in between now and the end of Summer. Educational Merit Credit will apply retrospectively if earned during the inmate’s current term of incarceration.
Good Conduct Credits
- Granted to inmates with the expectation that they will remain disciplinary free
- The amount of Good Conduct Credits many inmates are eligible to receive will increase
Milestone Completion Credits
- Earned when an inmate completes a specific education or vocational program that has attendance and performance requirements
- The maximum amount of time an inmate can earn for Milestone Completion Credits will increase from 6 weeks per year to 12 weeks
Rehabilitative Achievement Credits
- Earned when an inmate participates in approved rehabilitative service and self-help groups which requires attendance and satisfactory participation
- These groups must be approved by the warden of the institution
- Inmates can earn up to 4 weeks of credit per year
Educational Merit Credit
- Earned for successful completion and award, while incarcerated, of a GED, high school diploma, college degree or alcohol and drug counselor certification
- One-time credit awarded for each level of educational achievement earned during the inmate’s current term
Eligible inmates can earn credits while incarcerated for their good behavior and for their participation in, and completion of, specific rehabilitative, educational or other programs. Some credits may be forfeited as a result of disciplinary infractions while others are not forfeitable. Inmates have the right to appeal any forfeiture of credit and the credits will be restored if the disciplinary action is reversed as a result of an administrative appeal or a court action.
- Good Conduct Credits, Milestone Completion Credits, and Rehabilitative Achievement Credits are subject to forfeiture for disciplinary reasons.
- Educational Merit Credits and Extraordinary Conduct Credits for extraordinary heroism are not subject to forfeiture for disciplinary reasons.
The new law requires that all juvenile offenders who committed their crimes prior to age 18 have a hearing in juvenile court before being transferred to adult court. Specifically, it only allows a juvenile felony offender age 16 or 17 to be transferred to adult court, or age 14 or 15 for certain more serious felonies listed in state law. It is estimated that there will be an increase of 72 juvenile wards as a result of these changes due to the anticipated increase in juvenile court commitments.
The Office of Administrative Law will be reviewing the Department’s proposed regulation for consideration for emergency adoption. If approved, CDCR will then publish a public notice containing the regulation text and other documents with an invitation for public comment. This is expected sometime in April.
For more information about Prop. 57 or CDCR, please contact The Office of External Affairs: Albert Rivas, Chief, at (916) 224-8137 or Matthew Westbrook, AGPA, at (916) 445-4950.