Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) released the following statement from Statewide Coordinator Emily Harris on the budget deal announced by Governor Jerry Brown and legislative leaders last Friday and passed on-time yesterday by the Legislature.
“In the face of community and court pressure for sweeping criminal justice reform, Governor Brown and the legislature have made only small changes to their ongoing commitment to mass incarceration. For years we have seen our elected representatives baulk at opportunities presented by realignment and the Court’s prison crowding order to abandon failed policies that have imprisoned more and more Californians over the last several decades. Unfortunately, this year is not very different.
“The legislature watered down Brown’s Budget proposal that would have made the use of split-sentencing in counties mandatory and instead merely creates incentives for increased use. Similarly, the expansion to the county level of alternative custody program for primary caregivers ignores the failure of the state program to release 92% of those deemed eligilble for release (3,700 out of 4,000). Sustained pressure in each county will be required to enact these changes.
“The legislature’s refusal to eliminate $500 million in new jail construction money from the budget shows many legislators are more afraid to disturb Governor Brown’s allegiance with the Sheriff’s Association than they are willing to protect California’s most vulnerable populations from a future where going to jail is a prerequisite for getting access to mental health, drug treatment and social programs.
“The budget deal continues to send billions of dollars down the ‘rathole’ of incarceration while including no significant restorations to anti-poverty and social safety net programs that have suffered years of cuts, and could lift low-income Californians out of both poverty and prison.”
The Negative: More Prison and Jail Expansion
- $500 million for the construction of new county jails;
- $300 million to expand infrastructure capacity at existing prison facilities;
- An agreement between the Department of Finance and the County of Los Angeles to identify how the state can support the county in addressing the infrastructure needs of the jail system.
The Positive: Re-entry Support and some Sentencing Reform
- $8 million to community based organizations to support reentry;
- $2.5 million to community based organizations for in custody programming that support reentry;
- The cap was lifted on split sentencing;
- Alternative Custody expanded to counties to allow men and women at the county level to participate in a voluntary alternative custody program;
- The ban on CalWORKs/CALFresh benefits was lifted from individuals convicted of a drug felony;
- People released under Prop 36 able to access transitional housing, mental health and substance abuse treatment without being placed on parole or other forms of post-release supervision;
- $2 million for licenses and I.D’s for people on parole.
Review the full Assembly Public Safety Budget Trailer Bill (AB1468) here: