Gov. Jerry Brown proposes increasing prison spending by 2.1%


Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed $199 million or 2.1% increase in the state’s prison budget for fiscal year 2014-15.

About $9.8 billion has been allocated to the corrections budget for the upcoming fiscal year, according to Brown’s initial proposal submitted earlier this month.

The additional funding was proposed partly because the state had projected a 6.9% increase in its adult prison population in 2014-15, notwithstanding a federal court order capping the state’s prison population at 137.5% of design capacity by April 18th.

Read more: Spotlight: California Prison Capacity Expansion

Notably, Brown’s budget assumed that the court would grant the state’s request for a two-year extension to comply with the population reduction order stemming from the Coleman and Plata class action lawsuits.

“We’ve been negotiating with the various parties – the adversaries and the judges – and I think we’re getting very close,” said Brown, who declined to comment on the details of the settlement talks. “We hope we are.”

The state and the Coleman and Plata plaintiffs have until Jan. 23rd to file their proposed plans on how to achieve the court-mandated inmate population reduction, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011.

If the Brown fails to secure a two-year extension from the three-judge panel, then the corrections department would have to lease out-of-state prison beds to meet the court’s population reduction benchmark.

“If we don’t [get the extension], then we’ll do the best we can to make sure that we have the capacity to continue to incarcerate people that are there by operational law,” Brown said of his back-up plan to transfer inmates out-of-state. “My job is to protect the public safety of California. I work very closely with the representatives of law enforcement and I’m doing everything I can to maintain the laws that we have. But where the courts are absolutely insistent, then I respond.”

But if the two-year extension is approved, Brown’s budget would allow allocate about $81.1 million from the savings of not having to lease out-of-state beds to the Recidivism Reduction Fund.

About half – $40 million – would go towards funding re-entry programs in jails or group homes to help inmates who are within a year of their release transition prepare for their transition to their community.

$11.8 from the Recidivism Reduction Fund would expand drug treatment programs at 10 non-residential state facilities. Another $9.7 million would pay for substance abuse and cognitive therapy treatments at contracted facilities.

$11.3 million would provide transitional housing and mental health services for an additional 300 mentally ill parolees in 2014-15.

The final $8.3 million would go fund the renovation to increase capacity of the Northern California Reentry Facility.

If approved by the state legislature, the corrections would account for 9% of California’s budget.

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