CDCR today announced that it has met an important benchmark to reduce the state’s prison population.
A Three-Judge Court order, affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, requires CDCR to cut its prison population to 124,000 by June 27, 2012 and ultimately reduce overcrowding by 34,000 inmates. On June 20, the most recent count, California’s prison inmate population was 121,129. This achievement is the result of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s public safety Realignment policy, which ensures that many lower-level offenders are punished and managed at the local level.
“We are ahead of schedule. We were required to get down to 124,000 inmates by the end of June and we actually reached that number in mid-April,” said CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate. “The population drop is increasing our savings while allowing us to more strongly emphasize rehabilitation.”
Public safety Realignment (Assembly Bill 109) was implemented October 1, 2011. Realignment shifts responsibility and funding for non-serious, non-violent, non-sex offenders from the State of California to counties, which can more effectively sanction and rehabilitate offenders.
The reduction of crowding enables other improvements at CDCR, including a renewed commitment to rehabilitation. CDCR’s overall plans for the next five years are laid out in “The Future of California Corrections,” a blueprint that was released in April. Once implemented, it will save California billions in spending, end costly federal oversight of inmate medical, mental health and dental care, and significantly improve the operation of the state’s prison system.
Under the Three-Judge Court’s prisoner reduction order, affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2011, the inmate population in California’s 33 prisons must be no more than:
• 167 percent of design capacity by December 27, 2011(133,016 inmates)
• 155 percent by June 27, 2012 (124,000 inmates)
• 147 percent by December 27, 2012 (117,000 inmates)
• 137.5 percent by June 27, 2013 (110,000 inmates)
Although it is fairly standard for prisons to house two inmates in a cell, a prison’s design capacity is calculated based on one inmate per cell, single-level bunks in dormitories, and no beds in places not designed for housing. Current design capacity in CDCR’s 33 institutions is 79,650. Realignment enables the State to safely reduce the inmate population as a percentage of design capacity without either quickly building a number of new prisons or resorting to early release of inmates.
Copies of monthly status reports (including the documents filed for the six-month benchmark), a graph tracking the prison population and other information are on the CDCR internet website, Three-Judge Court webpage: https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/News/3_judge_panel_decision.html.