CA May Revise Backslides into Aggressive Prison Construction, Punting Durable Population Reduction

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 14th

Press Contact: Christina Tsao, Californians United for a Responsible Budget

Christina@curbprisonspending.org or 213-864-8931

Twitter: @curbprisons

SACRAMENTO, CA – The May Revision to Governor Brown’s 2015-16 budget, released this morning, delays plans to close the notorious decaying prison in Norco, a move supported by Senator Hancock and CURB members earlier this week. The Corrections Budget continues to account for a total of $12.676 billion with plans for “aggressive” prison construction at Donovan and Mule Creek over the next year.

“We know the only permanent solution for the decaying California Rehabilitation Center in Norco is to bulldoze it immediately,” explained Deb Reyes of California Prison Moratorium Project. Today’s revised budget pushes off any plans to address Senator Hancock’s demand to close Norco until the release of next years 2016-17 budget. Reyes continues “Why are we waiting? People who are suffering in California’s crowded and decaying prisons need the legislature to take action immediately to implement common sense parole and sentencing reforms to keep California below the court ordered population cap.”

Today’s May Revise promises to bring 4,000 people from out of state contract beds back to California, while simultaneously suggesting a commitment for “aggressive construction” of new prison beds. “Building more beds, and continuing to shuffle people around the country isn’t the type of ‘permanent solution’ to prison overcrowding that California voters want.” says Emily Harris the State Field Director for the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. “The budget did not anticipate reductions from reforms like Prop 47 or expanding parole, signaling that the Governor is not taking these reforms seriously, but only reacting to population reduction and not actively pursuing it.” The passage of Prop. 47 has been hailed as a voter mandate for California to continue to reduce its reliance on locking people up.

Advocates have called for Correction Budget funds to be redirected from proposed prison expansion into the implementation and expansion of court ordered measures to reduce the number of people locked-up in California. Current legislation from Senator Liu and Assemblymember Stone would expand these court order measures and continue the need to expand corrections capacity. The Governor’s May Budget Revise suggests a decrease in prison population by 1.1 percent in 2014‐15 and decrease by 3.8 percent in 2015‐16, however the, the Administration will wait to develop a long term plan that includes court ordered measures until the 2016‐17 Governor’s Budget.

“This revision shows a lack of commitment to a realistic plan to get out of the court order. All I see is lots of expensive construction,” said Diana Zuñiga, Statewide Coordinator for Californians United for a Responsible Budget. “Instead of focusing on keeping an aging prison open our efforts should be on continuing with parole and sentencing reform that is decreasing the population. This revision is a disgrace in that it leaves programs like elder parole, credit expansion, and the alternative custody program out of the equation when we know that is the only way we will get out of the court order by February 2016. How can you create a long term plan a month before that deadline?”

CURB will be available for comment. We will also be joining California Partnership in a series of press conferences.

Press Conference locations:

Thursday, May 14, 2015:

Los Angeles: Aurora Garcia – 562-519-3106 – 12pm at the Ronald Reagan State Building, 300 South Spring St., LA

Sacramento: Pete Woiwode – 510-504-9552 – 11:00am at 1315 10th St., Sacramento

Friday, May 15th, 2015:

Riverside: Maribel Nunez – 562-569-4051 – 1:00pm at the California Towers Riverside, 3737 Main Street Riverside, CA 92501

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