Saturday, April 9, 2011

Prison Smorgasbord! not exactly all you can eat

I was already piling up some items in multiple browser tabs, hoping the browser wouldn't crash, when Prometheus6 went ahead and posted this item that is exceedingly strange due to the joint appearance of Ben Jealous (NAACP) and Grover Norquist (hater of all taxes all the time):

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

So best for all concerned is for me to just add my bottlenecked items about California's new prison transfer law, AB109; Gov. Jerry Brown's signing message affecting how the bill is implemented; reactions from county/local officials; an item on women and prison reform; and several others. Off you go, then:

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill late Monday that aims to make a key part of his budget proposal a reality -- AB109, which authorizes the transfer of thousands of state prisoners to local jails (and also shifts various other criminal justice functions away from the state and down to the county level).

One problem: Brown planned to fund the measure with tax increases and extensions -- you know, the ones vehemently opposed by Republicans. The governor had hoped to put those taxes before voters in June, but threw in the towel last week after being stymied by that GOP opposition.

But Brown had to do something -- if he didn't sign of veto AB109 by Monday, it would have gone into law automatically. So he attempted to soften the blow by writing in his signing message that AB109 will not take effect until the state has figured out way to pay counties for the extra responsibilities...

Governor signs bill returning prisoners to local jails
Herald Staff Writer
Posted: 04/06/2011 01:42:46 AM PDT

Law enforcement officials in Monterey County are preparing for the return of some state prisoners to county custody even as they try to discern exactly what that would mean.

Late Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill authorizing the return of certain "low-level" nonviolent offenders to California counties — with the caveat that it won't happen until the money is there to help counties accommodate them.

The bill approved by Brown says the "realignment" is scheduled to begin July 1 — but can only go into effect "upon creation of a community corrections grant program to assist in implementing this act, and upon an appropriation to fund the grant program."

Despite that provision, some local police leaders fear the state won't follow through with adequate funds.

"The California Police Chiefs Association has had a lot of trust in Governor Brown since he was attorney general," said Marina Police Chief Eddie Rodriguez. "He normally does what he says. The only problem is the state is in a fiscal crisis and we don't know where that money will come from."

"I don't think 'make sure that it's fair' is part of the paradigm," said Sheriff Scott Miller. "It's not going to be a pretty thing."

But Miller said he has a more immediate concern than the money — where to put the returning prisoners.

The county's jail runs about 200 to 300 inmates over capacity every day...

INTERMISSION: Here's a San Francisco Chronicle cartoon that sums up the above two articles, I think. Click the jammies to see the whole Tom Meyer cartoon.

Timothy P. Silard,Lateefah Simon
Tuesday, April 5, 2011

If we want to fix California's broken criminal justice system, let's start by changing our approach to incarcerating and rehabilitating women. That is one of the key proposals offered in March by a panel of law enforcement and social justice leaders on California Attorney General Kamala Harris' transition team. Here's why:

California holds the largest number of female prisoners in the country...

How we re-enter women into society affects entire families and communities...

Our current way of doing business makes no fiscal sense. We spend about $52,000 to keep each woman behind bars for one year; the two largest women's prisons, both in Chowchilla, cost $278 million to operate annually. Annual costs for social services for children of female inmates are estimated at $56 million.

The costs we incur make even less sense as the vast majority of women behind bars today are classified as low-risk and were convicted of nonviolent crimes...

By GREG BLUESTEIN, Associated Press
Saturday, April 2, 2011
(04-02) 08:32 PDT ATLANTA (AP) --

As costs to house state inmates have soared in recent years, many conservatives are reconsidering a tough-on-crime era that has led to stiffer sentences, overcrowded prisons and bloated corrections budgets.

Ongoing budget deficits and steep drops in tax revenue in most states are forcing the issue, with law-and-order Republican governors and state legislators beginning to overhaul years of policies that were designed to lock up more criminals and put them away for longer periods of time...

Prison guards, supervisors rack up millions of hours in paid time off
Marisa Lagos, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
(03-08) 04:00 PDT Sacramento - --

California prison guards and their supervisors have racked up 33.2 million hours of vacation, sick and other paid time off - an astounding accumulation that amounts to nearly half a year per worker.

It also adds up to a $1 billion liability for taxpayers of the deficit-plagued state.

Poor management at California's prisons has for years allowed workers to stock up on generous amounts of paid time off - a benefit that employees must either use or cash out when they retire. But the numbers swelled when former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger imposed furloughs in 2009, forcing prison guards and their supervisors to take unpaid days off each month to help save state cash.

Furloughs are problematic at California's 33 state prisons, all of which operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and have thousands of unfilled prison guard positions. Workers have been coming in on their furlough days and banking paid time off.

"You can't shut prisons down," Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Oscar Hidalgo said. "You have to keep them operational. You have to cover every post. You don't want to endanger staff by not doing that."...

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