Archive for August, 2009

State ordered to shrink prison population by 44,000 inmates

Posted on August 4, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The Crime Victims Action Alliance is appalled, but not surprised, at the ruling handed down by the three judge  panel.  CVAA is relieved that at least it is out of the hands of these anti-public safety judges as the matter now moves on to the Supreme Court.

dwalsh@sacbee.com

Published Tuesday, Aug. 04, 2009

In a historic move, a panel of three federal judges today ordered the state of California to reduce its prison population by more than 44,000 inmates in the next two years.

The order, which will not result in the immediate release of any of the state’s 160,000 inmates, almost certainly will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, the first time the high court will have faced such a case.

California’s prison system is operating at 190 percent of its design capacity of 84,210 inmates, and the judges said the state must devise an inmate reduction plan within 45 days unless a stay is ordered to allow an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The convergence of tough-on-crime policies and an unwillingness to expend the necessary funds to support the population growth has brought California’s prisons to the breaking point,” the judges’ 184-page order said.

The judges added that “federal courts do not intervene in state affairs lightly,” but that conditions in California’s prisons have become “horrific” in some cases.

“…(T)he rights of California’s prisoners have repeatedly been ignored,” the judges wrote. “Where the political process has utterly failed to protect the constitutional rights of a minority, the courts can, and must, vindicate those rights.”

The order stems from suits filed against the state by various groups, including the Prison Law Office in Berkeley, alleging overcrowding has led to unconstitutional medical and mental health care.

Donald Specter, chief attorney for the law office, called the order “a landmark ruling and historic day in prison litigation in this state and in the country.”

“The court’s order will now require what virtually every expert and even the state itself has recognized for 15 years,” he said. “It can be done safely, thoughtfully and without any adverse impact on our state.”

The order comes as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is seeking to reduce the prison population by 27,000 to save $1.2 billion in costs, but the plan is being attacked by crime victims’ groups angry at the prospect of such a reduction.

Corrections officials are planning a 3:30 p.m. press conference to discuss the order.

“We are reading the ruling right now to see what our options are,” department spokesman Oscar Hidalgo said.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off on State ordered to shrink prison population by 44,000 inmates )

California State’s Prison/Parole Reform Plan Kills

Posted on August 4, 2009. Filed under: California State Budget, Crime, Parole |

Contact: Christine Ward                                                                                                                                                August 4, 2009

Email: cward@cvactionalliance.org

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

California State’s Prison/Parole Reform Plan Kills

Governor Schwarzenegger’s soft on crime policy already has taken the lives of two young Californians, and we are asking…how many more will be murdered, robbed, and raped?

The Crime Victims Action Alliance condemns the Governor’s prison/parole plan that he wants the Legislature to approve.

It is apparent with the murders over the past week of a young man in Woodland and a young woman in Los Angeles, that the Governor is risking the lives of all Californians to save a few bucks, stated Christine Ward, director of CVAA.

The Governor’s plan is dangerous and misleading.  Very few “non-violent/non-serious” felons go to prison.  The state continues to use the example of drug offenses as non violent crimes.  Los Angeles Police said The parolee just released from prison who killed Lily Burk was out looking for money to feed his drug addiction – how can the state say that drug crimes are not violent?

The labels “non-violent” and “non-serious” are misleading.  The state plans to use penal code definitions of non-violent and non-serious. These definitions have not been updated for years (and must be done so by the legislature) and crimes such as human trafficking, solicitation to commit murder, physical child abuse, stalking, and killing/mutilating/torturing a domestic animal (a precursor to serial murder) are not considered violent or serious per the penal codes . CVAA sponsored SB440 (Denham) that would have included these crime in the list of violent/serious – but this bill is sitting in a committee in Sacramento waiting to be voted on later in the year, it is expected not to pass because it would send people to prison –something the state says we cannot afford.

“The people of the state of California have voted time and again, for tough punishments for criminals, not just violent criminals – all criminals!” stated Christine Ward, director of CVAA

The CVAA will continue to work with the administration to convince the Governor that public safety should be his number one priority. 

A few facts regarding the California prison and parole populations.

  • The state of California currently houses 159, 034 inmates in their facilities (this number does not include the 7880 that are housed out of state)
  • This equates to .4%, or 4 out of every 1000 residents of the state of California is currently serving time in prison.
  • In California there are 109,995 felons on parole.  This equates to .3% or 3 out of 1000 residents of the state is currently on parole.
  • Washington State, often compared to California, houses 16,614 inmates which equates to .3% of the population of the state of Washington in prison. Washington does not have parole.
  • Texas, which has 14 million fewer residents than California, but is the closest in population has an incarceration population of 162, 560 – that equates to .6% of their population.

Though California may incarcerate more felons than other states – California is larger than the other states in the union including Texas, which as 14 million fewer residents and incarnates more individuals than California.

# # #

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Chris Ward by email at cward@cvactionalliance.org.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off on California State’s Prison/Parole Reform Plan Kills )

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...