Two weeks ago, the Senate and Assembly budget subcommittees both voted to reject the Governor’s proposal for jail expansion. On Thursday, the Budget Conference Committee reaffirmed the rejection, with Committee Chair Asm. Phil Ting declaring that the state must “figure out how to move people away from jails” instead of pouring money “down a black hole” of jail construction.
The Governor and the Sheriffs continue to trample upon the will of the public and of the budget committees, pushing the Conference Committee to find a way to inject $250 million for more jail expansion into the budget.
Make sure the Conference Committee understands how deeply jails have destabilized our communities and traumatized our families. We can’t let them get pushed around by the Governor and the cops, whose appetite for policing and imprisoning our people will never be satisfied.
At Thursday’s hearing, Sen. Mark Leno, the Vice Chair of the Conference Committee, reminded his colleagues of the state’s jail building boom that has already included $2.2 billion for 14,000 new jail beds, and more than $1 billion annually through realignment that’s been used primarily “for operation of that huge expansion of jail beds,” he said. “And now we’re told that’s still not enough, but we don’t have the details as to why it’s not enough.”
During a hearing in March, Conference Committee member Sen. Loni Hancock shared her colleague’s exasperation: “The jail money, the police money, all that was supposed to be one time, but it just appears in the budget over and over again.”
It’s time policymakers show concern and compassion for our communities, not continue locking them away.
Co-Coordinator, Californians United for a Responsible Budget