Non-Profits Call on Legislators to Take Action on Prison Overcrowding

February 20, 2014 11:00 am · 25 comments

A coalition of advocacy groups today delivered letters to state legislators calling on them to act quickly reduce prison overcrowding and drop any plans for prison expansion.

Today’s action, which targeted state legislators in San Francisco and Los Angeles as well as Gov. Jerry Brown in Sacramento, came in response to a Feb. 10 ruling that gave the state a two-year extension on a deadline to reduce overcrowding in state prisons.

The letter delivered today by Californians United for a Responsible Budget, a coalition representing dozens of organizations in areas including housing, health care, youth, women’s issues and criminal justice, calls on legislators to expand parole and sentencing reform measures, invest in anti-recidivism and anti-poverty programs and cancel all prison expansion plans and plans to send additional prisoners to out-of-state prisons.

“California cannot solve the overcrowding crisis by simply moving people around,” the letter read. “We must reduce the population.”

In San Francisco, representatives of CURB delivered letters and a petition with more than 500 signatures to the offices of Assemblyman Phil Ting, state Sen. Leland Yee, state Sen. Mark Leno and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano. Group members were greeted cordially and said all four legislators are supporters of prison reform.

“I think the public is tired of throwing good money after bad,” said Karen Shain, representing the Women’s Foundation of California.

Federal judges have previously ruled in two long-running civilrights lawsuits that the only way to correct inadequate medical care in the prison system was to reduce the number of inmates.

A federal three-judge panel agreed to the deadline extension this month after the state proposed a plan for a long-term solution to overcrowding.

The state now has until Feb. 28, 2016, to reduce the population of its 34 adult prisons to 137.5 percent of their capacity, a reduction of 5,470 inmates from the current population of 117,634, according to state corrections officials. Inmate numbers were previously reduced by about 25,000 through a realignment policy that shifted low-level offenders to county jails.

The extension comes with conditions, including an agreement by the state to not seek further appeals or extensions.

The state also agreed to increase good-time credits for non-violent second-strike offenders, expand parole for the elderly and medically infirm and consider establishing a commission to recommend sentencing law reforms.

The court will appoint a compliance officer, and if benchmarks are not met that officer will have the power to order the immediate release of prisoners.

Gov. Jerry Brown said at the time of the court ruling that the deadline extension would give the state “the time and resources necessary to help inmates become productive members of society and make our communities safer.”

Huh? February 20, 2014 at 11:06 AM

Reducing the population is the answer. The question is, how do you reduce the population?

Get through to them before they go down the wrong path. Good luck.

Sure! February 20, 2014 at 11:13 AM

Just release everyone and give me my ccw. Oh hell I’ll carry any way. With more criminals on the streets and less cops you’re not going to be able to count on anyone else to protect your family. Cops can’t be everywhere even if there was more.

Mr. Pink February 20, 2014 at 11:15 AM

“act quickly reduce prison overcrowding and drop any plans for prison expansion.”

Kind of an odd request.

That being said, yes I’m sure there are many minor offenders that probably shouldn’t have been locked up in the first place. Always amazed when I hear about people pulling long jail stretches for minor drug infractions, yet rapists and child molesters get out after several years. Our societal priorities are way out of whack.

Anonymous February 20, 2014 at 11:27 AM

People don’t get prison for “minor drug offenses” They go to prison for doing really bad things.

Fire up the executions.

old concord February 20, 2014 at 11:46 AM

We need to move from the age of propaganda . Drugs are an individuals health issues . Stop paying $80 billion dollars a year to house marijuana people . Stop building any more prisons . Build hospitals , and train our youth to be doctors , nurses and other health care professionals , not prison guards . No more haters .

Anon777 February 20, 2014 at 11:50 AM

Reducing the prison population is very simple: Gas every inmate who has a sentence that will never let them see the light of day again. Gas every inmate on death row, every child molestor, rapist and murder. There you go, LOTS of room! Next up, take all those tax payer dollars that pay for prisons and move them to education.

Mr. Pink February 20, 2014 at 11:57 AM

I’m sure you can find a few minor offenses here, drug or otherwise.

Killjoy February 20, 2014 at 12:15 PM

How about we turn the electric chair back on? That’ll reduce the crowding.

MamaP February 20, 2014 at 12:17 PM

I just have food for thought. All this uproar over 3 strikes…when the 3rd strike is “non-violent”…..isn’t it just a matter of opportunity? Person goes into a house with intent to rob and family comes home to confront him….while this may not be violent as the guy runs…what if said perp had a gun…does the difference in the situation matter? If the perp had a gun and chose to use it…NOW you have “violence”….just the fact that he’s had two strikes should tell him NOT to do ANY further crime..NONE…..I talked with a San Quentin inmate whose first crime he said he did not commit (with NO further explanation) and had no part of, second crime he would not speak to and the 3rd crime “I only reached into the till and took out $40. I didn’t have a gun or anything”…Well, ahole-maybe you shouldn’t have reached into the till to rob…gun or no gun. Something tells me if he’d had a gun he would have used it. Let’s get back to the basics…obey the law-don’t rob, steal, cheat, hurt people, yadda yadda. Put on your big boy/girl panties and BEHAVE yourself!!!! I know, I know-waaaaaaaay too simplistic..but let’s not coddle career criminals.

Always Right February 20, 2014 at 12:30 PM

Thanks for the link, Mr. Pink

Most of these mandatory minimums look too lenient to me. For example, only one year for burglary with a fire arm (aka home invasion robbery)? That should be a 5 year minimum at least.

Always Right February 20, 2014 at 12:32 PM

Thanks for the link, Mr. Pink

Most of these mandatory minimums look too lenient to me. For example, only one year for burglary with a fire arm (aka home invasion robbery)? That should be a 5 year minimum at least.

BCuzItzClaycord February 20, 2014 at 12:44 PM

It’s prison……’s punishment……..not suppose to be fun or comfy. Take a look at prisons in Europe and Asia………..model after them.
And stop all the boo-hoo as far as “they were underprivileeged youth” or “they grew up in a single mother home”…’s excuse, not a cause. Plenty of law abiding, prductive citizens grow up “underprivileged” and in a “single mother home”

Clayton Valley Grad February 20, 2014 at 1:06 PM

I have no idea how to reduce prison overcrowding. I wish I did.

I just hope they keep trying until they get it right. I do believe in stiffer sentences as well as the three strikes law.

warbirds45 February 20, 2014 at 1:18 PM

Ship the prisoners to UC Davis. They can use them for testing of new medical vaccines, serums and antidotes for future diseases on the criminals!
They can start with the 2 thugs in the Brian Stow case!

Anonymous February 20, 2014 at 1:46 PM

Glad to see Old Concord back. He instructs us we are spending $80,000,000,000 a year to imprison pot heads. I teach a drug education class and use his posts as an example of marijuana caused dementia.

I urge Old Concord to seek treatment. It’s available if he wants it badly enough.

I shivved him February 20, 2014 at 1:47 PM

@Clayton Valley Grad,

The answer is simple. Decriminalize drugs. The prison population problem is 100% due to the “War on Drugs” which begin on the 80’s. Between 1855 and 1980, the prison population hovered around 100 inmates per 100,000 citizens. From 1982 to 2000, it increased to nearly 500 inmates per 100,000. To accommodate this population growth, the state of California built 23 new prisons at a cost of 280 million to 350 million dollars apiece.

So with all that money spent and people locked up, you would think California would have won the war, right? Wrong. Between 1997 and 2007, drug seizures, rehab admissions and admitted drug use in every major category rose. The U.S and California have lost the war on drugs. Imagine if we stayed in Vietnam another 10 years after losing that war. That’s what we’re doing here. What a waste.

see this chart:

kax February 20, 2014 at 1:55 PM

we should absolutely reduce the prison population problem….the problem is simply that the more our population grows, the more criminals emerge, and out of those, there will of course be many more serious offenders….the solution is to build MORE prisons, and to reduce the overall population of the country, smaller families, birth-control, etc… but we probably won’t do that….but we DO need somewhere to put violent offenders and those that prey on others……that’s why we have prisons, and that’s why we’ll need more…..

Idiocracy February 20, 2014 at 1:57 PM

Gladiator Games ….. Why not if they are on death row they deserve no compassion.

Chain Gangs

Hard Labor

No perks, No visitors, No steak

Maybe as a nation we should stop the promotion of dumbing everything down and strive to be the best like we use to. Maybe you ladies should stop mating with mentally ill guys who think they are Tony Montana, and can’t get a job (not smart to carry a losers gene period). Maybe us guys should stop going after soulless party fiend gold diggers that don’t want to be real Mothers that nurture their kids properly (I know they look good but the price is too much). Maybe we should stop rewarding “The Stupid”! You can’t fix stupid….

Simple solution (not for bleeding hearts) February 20, 2014 at 2:31 PM

Let all of the prisoners out.

If they should commit any other crime, they are put to death.

Problem solved.

Mimi (original) February 20, 2014 at 3:35 PM

Free everyone jailed for smoking pot!

Richardsfamily February 20, 2014 at 4:18 PM

So just to this groups website “Californians United for a Responsible” and just sounds like a bunch of crazies. Just look up who make up the Board of Directors.

Mark February 20, 2014 at 4:31 PM

One way to reduce the prison population is to speed up executions.

Easy February 20, 2014 at 4:33 PM

The easy way to reduce prison population is to Gas more of them.

@I shivved him February 20, 2014 at 4:58 PM

Are you nuts? Drugs cause 100% of crimes ?
You gotta be crazy

Anon February 20, 2014 at 6:53 PM

Kill a few, we used to have a death penalty in the bleeding heart libtard state. That will make the criminals think twice, unlike now where the ACLU says that prison have to be like a vacation.

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