By Scott Kernan, CDCR  Secretary

I hope that you and your families all had a safe and happy holiday season.  We should all be proud of the positive changes at CDCR that we created together last year.  While still many challenges remain, the staff of this Department has stepped up in very many ways.  I’m so appreciative of all the hard work and dedication that you all display every day.

Today, the Governor released his proposed budget, including significant change for our Department and the entire California criminal justice system.  I think all of our diverse stakeholders, from inmates to the courts, will be impacted.  Certainly all of us will.  I want to highlight for you the more significant changes coming soon.

Proposition 57

  • The budget assumes the population will decrease under Proposition 57 by 2,000 in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017-18, and by 9,500 in FY 2020-21.
  • We will begin bringing back out-of-state inmates to CDCR in FY 2017-18 and end the out-of-state program in FY 2020-21.
  • DJJ population will slightly increase and we will open two more living units.
  • The parole population will grow to 44,761 in FY 2017-18.

While the elements of Proposition 57 are still being worked out with stakeholders, the Governor has decided on the following framework:

  • A modest change to some inmates’ good-time credit-earning status.
  • Change the current milestone program that limits eligibility to inmates convicted of non-violent offenses to most inmates in the system regardless of conviction.
  • Increase the current milestone credits from six to 12 weeks that an inmate can earn in a 12-month period.
  • Recognize the completion of significant achievements such as an AA or BA degree during an inmate’s current term with a one-time reduction of between three and six months.
  • Create an up-to-four-week per year credit for an inmate’s sustained participation in self-help programs throughout CDCR.
  • Expand modestly the amount of inmates eligible for parole consideration under the current Non-Violent Second Striker parole process.
  • Emphasize inmate accountability to remain disciplinary free, satisfactorily complete their work/education assignment, and participate in productive activities during their incarceration.

In-patient Psychiatric Programs Transfer

Another major component of the budget is the transfer of 1,156 in-patient beds operated in our prisons by the Department of State Hospitals (DSH) to CDCR and California Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS).  The change will be effective July 1, 2017, if approved by the Legislature, and will redirect $250 million and 1,978 positions from DSH to CDCR at Salinas Valley State Prison, California Health Care Facility and California Medical Facility.  We have a lot of details to work through, but it is my hope that the DSH staff currently working in our prisons will transition to CDCR and CCHCS and be welcomed with open arms.  These in-patient programs are critical to our success and the DSH staff has been part of our organizational family for decades.

These are but two of the major impacts to CDCR in 2017.  Further details will be communicated to all staff in the near future and more information on the Governor’s Budget is available on the Department of Finance’s website: http://dof.ca.gov/Budget/

Read the summary of the budget proposal: 2017-18 budget proposal

I look forward to working through these changes with you all in 2017.

Thank you for what you do every day.