California Proposition 30 was originally approved as a crucial step towards fixing our financially drained public educational system by funding schools with newly implemented taxes. As of this fall, however, the measure may now be warped into a means of draining state resources away from education and into the prison-industrial complex.
Governor Jerry Brown and his California-uber-alles legislature have agreed on a plan to redirect hundreds of millions of dollars raised by Prop 30 for the purpose of “relieving” overcrowded prisons, sending prisoners out of state and to for-profit leased facilities. Organizations that fought for Prop 30 are now taking to the streets and the Internet to organize against this new plan.
This is definitely not the first time that our state officials have chosen the prison industrial complex over our educational quality. They are notorious for dim and grimy straight-from-schools-to-prisons tunnels that drag the state deeper into the continuing problem of overcrowded prisons.
The matter of what to do about the overcrowded correctional facilities is a headache-filled matter to sort out. Let’s discuss the recent actions and progresses made to de-crowd our state’s prisons.
As background, design capacity is the number of inmates a prison can house based on one inmate per cell, single level bunks in dormitories, and beds in spaces not designed for housing.
The final target goal for the court-ordered inmate population reduction by June 27 was supposed to be at least 132.5 percent design capacity, in other words, a reduction of 110,000 inmates or lower. As of Oct. 2, the overall inmate design capacity rate was 167 percent (133,621 inmates total), more than 30 percent and more than 23,000 inmates behind schedule.
The current rate was actually the previous goal for Dec. 2011, showing that the rate has still been frozen over the past nearly two years.
This is still a 33 percent decrease in design capacity from the 2006 California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) peak rate of 202 percent design capacity (162,500 inmates). However, this slight progress is nowhere near enough justification for ripping away funds originally directed towards the state’s education budget.
One statistic that has been consistently decreasing is the parolee population. On Jan. 1 of this year, the parolee population total was 58,559. As of Oct. 2, the parolee population is now down to 50,239 — a decrease of approximately more than 8,000 parolees.
So it should be agreeable that every parolee released from custody or supervision opens another door to get one more extra inmate out of an overcrowded prison. Problem magically solved.
So why is it that Brown and friends are focusing on simply bussing hordes of inmates to even more unneeded prisons (especially for-profit prisons) out of all the potentially better ideas? Why is he especially funding this project using money that Californians voted to be used towards education?
Ladies and gentlemen, Gov. Jerry Brown shall now perform his newest magic trick. With the swoosh of his wand and a few magic words, Mr. Brown shall make all our Prop 30 funds disappear into thin air while simultaneously making new prisons magically appear from thin air at the same time!
One, two, three … abracadabra!