California Organizations Outline Smart, Safe, Prison Population Reduction Strategies

Media Alert—For Immediate Release—May 25, 2011

California Organizations Outline Smart, Safe, Prison Population Reduction Strategies

Contact: Emily Harris
Statewide Coordinator, Californians United for a Responsible Budget
Office: 510.435.1176
Email: emily@curbprisonspending.org
Website: www.curbprisonspending.org

Oakland CA — In response to Monday’s Supreme Court ruling on California prison overcrowding, a statewide alliance of over 40 organizations known as Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) is pushing the State to take up a number of strategies that would make substantial reductions in the prison population while potentially freeing up billions of dollars for programs and services devastated by California’s budget crisis.

CURB, which works to both shrink California’s prison population and end costly prison and jail construction, released The Budget for Humanity in March of this year.  The Budget for Humanity outlines a series of smart and safe strategies that California could push forward to reduce the prison population in compliance with the Supreme Court decision.  These strategies include:

  • Reforming drug sentencing laws by making possession of small amounts of drugs a misdemeanor instead of a felony.
  • Eliminating return-to-custody as a sanction for administrative and technical parole violations.
  • Making low-level, non-violent property offenses misdemeanors instead of “wobblers” which can be charged as a felony.
  • Repealing or amending the three strikes law so that the second and third strike must also be classified as “serious or violent”.
  • Providing education and/or job training to every person in prison.
  • Expanding “good time” credits.
  • Providing independent community-based drug, mental health treatment and reentry services to people coming home from prison.
  • Releasing or discharging all people who are terminally ill and permanently medically incapacitated by expanding medical parole and utilizing compassionate release.
  • Releasing elderly prisoners.
  • Paroling term-to-life prisoners who are parole eligible.
  • Amending or repealing juvenile life without parole convictions
  • Releasing people who are “mentally ill” to community-based mental health treatment programs.

CURB points out that most of these strategies have been safely and sustainably implemented in other states across the US. Additionally, CURB’s Budget for Humanity argues vehemently against jail and prison bed expansion to address overcrowding.  CURB calls prison and jail construction a “false solution” to the Supreme Court ruling and continues to criticize the billons of dollars of prison construction spending authorized by California’s controversial AB 900 lease revenue bond.

A series of experts are available on request to speak to the various population reduction measures outlined above.

To view the full Budget for Humanity visit: http://curbprisonspending.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Budget-for-Humanity.pdf

To view CURB’s 50 ways to reduce the number of people in prison in California visit: http://curbprisonspending.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/50waysCurb.pdf

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Isaac Ontiveros
Communications Director
Critical Resistance
1904 Franklin St #504
Oakland CA 94612
510.444.0484
510.444.2177 (fax)
510.517.6612 (cell)
isaac@criticalresistance.org

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