Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) is a statewide coalition of organizations working to reduce the number of people imprisoned in California and the number of prisons and jails in the state. We advocate for an investment in justice that centers care, not punishment.
Governor Newsom’s 2021-22 proposed budget for Corrections includes $13.1 billion in the general fund and special funds close to $3 billion, totaling just over $16 billion of state funding for corrections. The general fund includes $1.4 billion to support local community corrections, nearly $500 million for enhancing law enforcement activities and growth, and about $1billion to the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC), a significant increase to the amount allocated to the agency last year. This includes a one time allocation for $12.1 million to support county probation departments with the expedited release of individuals from prison to Post Release Community Supervision as related to the COVID-19 state of emergency.
The state prison population has gone from 150% of design capacity to just below the court-ordered cap of 137.5% as of 2019. The relentless activism of the community during the pandemic freed people and saved lives, contributing to the prison population dropping another 20%. However, many of these so-called “reductions” are also due to COVID-19 safety guidelines that placed a hold on transferring people from county cages to state-owned cages. The administration continues to propose funding for relief from COVID-19 but are failing to do what will actually protect public safety- release people from prisons and jails. Any further allocations to CDCR for COVID protections is wasteful. The awful toll of COVID-19 has shown that California can safely reduce its prison population and that doing so is cost effective and safe. Now is the time to permanently close facilities and lock these savings in structurally for the future while continuing to review and revise the statutes to reduce the incarcerated population while investing the savings in providing community-based safety strategies and pathways to reintegration into healthy and thriving communities.
Reductions in prison populations are advanced by reformed credit earning structures, conviction classifications and sentencing schemes via the ballot or legislation. For these reductions to be sustained, we must permanently close more California state prisons. Decreasing the state’s reliance on punitive answers to public safety has been matched with increases to the corrections budget, from $8.9 billion (2012-2013) to this coming year’s proposed $13.1 billion. This is not our definition of a responsible budget.
To view CURB’s full overview of the 2021-22 proposed budget, click here