SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) today submitted a court-ordered list of prison reduction measures, under protest, warning that public safety could be jeopardized and progress under realignment seriously undermined.
“We respect the court’s authority to order the list of measures, but we submitted it under protest,” said CDCR Secretary Jeff Beard. “The court ordered the population reduced so as to allow for medical and mental health care that complies with the Constitution. We are already providing that level of care and so further population reduction is not needed.”
The court-ordered list complies with an April 11, 2013 federal court order requiring the state to explain how it will reduce the adult prison population to 137.5 percent of design capacity. Meeting this order requires the state to reduce its prison population by another 9,300 inmates. The order stems from cases filed by inmates dating back to 1991 that claim the state’s prison medical and mental health care is inadequate and unconstitutional.
While required to file this list of measures, the state still intends to appeal the court order for further prison population reductions to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The court order persists despite more than $1 billion dollars of investment in new health care facilities and new treatment space, including a new, 1,722-bed facility that will open in July; hundreds of new doctors, nurses, psychiatrists and other medical and mental health care staff in California’s prisons; and historic prison reform under realignment – supported by local law enforcement and the Legislature – that has already reduced the prison population by more than 25,000 inmates, in addition to a 17,000 inmate reduction under the previous administration.
The court-ordered list focuses on increasing capacity to house prisoners, but also includes provisions to increase good-conduct credit. Virtually every action identified on the list requires legislative approval with the exception of the expanded fire camp capacity. All legislative changes must be urgency measures in order to meet the December 2013 court-ordered deadline.
The list includes the following measures:
• Expanding the capacity of fire camps.
• Slowing the rate of returning out-of-state inmates to California.
• Leasing beds from county jails and other facilities where there is sufficient capacity.
• Increasing good-conduct credit for non-violent inmates.
• Expanding medical and elderly parole.
The increase in credits for good conduct will not impact realignment. Prisoners who are released under the new good-conduct rules would serve their parole under state supervision. If they violate parole prior to the end of what their sentence would have been without the increased good-conduct credits, they will return to state prison.
A lengthier listing of all possible prison population reduction ideas is also included in the filing as compelled by the court.
To read a copy of the population reduction list, a timeline of the lawsuits and court actions to this point, click here.