Gov. Brown Backslides on Corrections Budget, Plans More Rat Holes

For Immediate Release – January 10th

Gov. Brown Backslides on Corrections Budget, Plans More Rat Holes

Contact:  Emily Harris

Californians United for a Responsible Budget

510-435-1176

Sacramento CA – Gov. Brown’s 2013-14 budget, released this morning, echoes comments earlier this week that the administration has deserted plans to shrink California’s over-sized prison population, ignoring clear messages from voters. The proposed budget increases prison spending $250 million including a $52 million General Fund increase, bringing the total Corrections budget over $11 billion. Despite the passage of Prop. 36 and continuing realignment,  It also projects an increase in the prison population by 2,262 people over the 2012 Budget Act projections.

 ”If the Governor believes that ‘we can’t pour more and more dollars down the rat hole of incarceration’ then why is he increasing spending on Corrections, planning for more prisoners rather than fewer and defying the demands of the Federal Court and the voters to further shrink the prison system?” asked Diana Zuñiga, Field Organizer for Californians United for a Responsible Budget.

 The overwhelming passage of Prop. 36 was widely recognized as a mandate from California voters to further reduce the prison population. A post-election poll by Californians for Safety and Justice determined that 62% of voters believe too much state funding goes to California’s prison system, and 86% agree that more resources should be dedicated to preventing crime rather than funding prisons and jails. In contrast, the Governor’s budget plans to increase capital outlays in the corrections budget from $27 million this year to $69 million next year, which has Californians questioning whether his plans include building even more prisons in 2013-14.

“Why is Brown building more rat holes? We don’t want more rat holes and we don’t want better rat holes. We want fewer Californians locked away and less of our state dollars spent on Corrections,” continued Zuñiga.

The $11 billion prison budget comes just days after the Brown administration declared the California prison crisis over. Contrary to claims that the prison system is no longer crowded, Central California Women’s Facility is at 184.4% capacity, well over the court’s 137.5% target, and the entire system is currently at 146% capacity.

The Los Angeles Times has endorsed former Gov. George Deukmejian’s call that the state’s prison population be reduced at least to 110,000, more than 20,000 fewer than are in the system this week. Realignment and other reforms are, as the Times notes, “only a beginning.”

After years of cuts, today’s budget includes an increase in spending on K-12 and higher education.  The CSU and UC systems each receiving an additional $125 million in funding for core instructional programs, a 5 percent increase.  Education advocates would like to see even further restorations.  “We are encouraged that Governor Brown wants to spend some of the money we do have on our schools and our colleges, but this budget reflects only a modest step to fight against the devastating fee increases that have been pushing low and middle income students out of California’s higher education system. We need a real plan to rollback the fee increases of the last decade, and the funds should come out of the bloated state corrections budget.” said Raquel Morales, President of the University of California Student’s Association.

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