New Jails; No Treatment in CA


With his first proposal rejected by a federal court, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last week submitted a new, 130-page plan to cut California prisons’ inmate population by 42,000 in two years.

The proposal (PDF) would build new prisons and transfer inmates out of state, but comes amid a hefty budgetary slash to drug treatment programs that lawmakers had previously identified as an effective way of in keeping people out of prison.

Indeed, rehabilitation — treatment, counseling or education programs — does not figure into the new prison plan. It adopts similar strategies outlined in the document that Schwarzenegger filed with the courts in September — including house arrest for elderly and ill inmates, transferring inmates out of state, and building new prisons.

The plan would waive environmental laws to expedite prison construction, and forgo restrictions on transferring inmates with serious medical and mental health problems to out-of-state prisons.

As mandated by the court, the state also included comments on the effects of $250 million in state cuts to adult rehabilitation programs — a 40 percent reduction in the overall rehabilitation and treatment budget.

The cuts could have an “adverse impact” on some health services for prisoners, and would also target 5,000 slots in the state’s substance-abuse programs for parolees.

The new plan does not mention that cuts to rehab will mean that drug treatment will close outright at eight prisons, and scaled-down versions will continue operating at 12 of its 33 prisons, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Cuts have already forced the shuttering of a substance abuse program at Donovan State Prison that’s hailed for cutting recidivism from 71 to 21 percent.

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