Criminal Justice Publications

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Realignment of Parole Could Improve Public Safety and Help Address Budget Shortfall

February 20, 2008 - We propose a nearly $500 million realignment of responsibility for supervision of low-level criminal offenders from the state parole system to county probation. Funding for parole realignment would come from a reallocation of waste and water district property taxes, city Proposition 172 sales taxes, and vehicle license fees. Our plan is designed to give counties a greater stake in the success of these offenders in the community, thereby reducing their likelihood of reoffending.


Administration’s Population Reduction Proposals Not Best Options

February 20, 2008 - The administration proposes to release certain inmates from prison early and place them under minimal parole supervision, a policy it terms "summary parole." We recommend alternatives offering a better tradeoff between public safety and budget savings: (1) changing crimes currently classified as "wobblers" to misdemeanors and (2) substituting an "earned discharge" program for the Governor’s summary parole proposal.


Restructuring Criminal Justice Local Assistance Programs

February 20, 2008 - The Governor’s budget proposes 10 percent across-the-board reductions for criminal justice local assistance programs to achieve about $60 million in savings. We recommend instead that the Legislature achieve savings of about $270 million by eliminating or reducing General Fund support for programs that have not demonstrated results, do not serve a statewide purpose, could be consolidated, or could be funded from other sources.


Specific Cost-Savings Options for the Judicial Branch

February 20, 2008 - The budget proposes an unallocated reduction of $246 million for the Judicial Branch. We recommend the Legislature adopt a savings target that is consistent with its own program and spending priorities and take specific actions. Options include suspending State Appropriations Limit adjustments, phasing in electronic court reporting, adjusting the budget for delays in the appointment of new judges, and increasing court revenues.


Reforming Inmate Education to Improve Public Safety: From Cellblocks to Classrooms

February 12, 2008 - Executive Summary
According to national research, academic and vocational programs can significantly reduce the likelihood that offenders will commit new offenses and return to prison. Despite these findings, the state offers these programs to only a relatively small segment of the inmate population. Moreover, the inmate education programs that do exist suffer from a number of problems that limit their effectiveness at reducing recidivism. To improve prison education programs and public safety, we recommend several structural reforms to increase the performance, outcomes, and accountability of the existing inmate education programs, as well as ways to expand their capacity at a low cost to the state.


Correctional Officer Pay, Benefits, and Labor Relations

February 7, 2008 - The administration proposes a 5 percent raise for correctional officers and legislation to allow it to impose a labor settlement on the officers’ union, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA). We find that the officers’ compensation levels are sufficient to allow the prisons to meet personnel needs at the present time, but we generally agree with other administration proposals to increase management control in prisons. We note that the dysfunctional relationship between the administration and CCPOA makes it more difficult to address the many issues facing the state’s prison and personnel management systems.


Disaster Assistance

January 3, 2008 - With the recent Southern California wildfires, there has been significant interest in the programs that are available to help disaster victims. The purpose of this memorandum is to provide information on the programs and funds available to deal with state disasters. We provide links to more specific information, such as program eligibility and rules.


Governor's Prison Overcrowding Package Is More Balanced But Too Big

April 12, 2007 - Presented to Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee No. 4 on State Admin., General Govt., Judicial and Transportation


Sex Offender Proposals Generally Consistent With New Laws, But More Detail Required

February 21, 2007 - The Governor's budget includes two proposals related to the management of sex offenders under parole supervision. We recommend approval of the proposal implementing recommendations of the High Risk Sex Offender Task Force, but find that the proposal to implement new state laws lacks important implementation details and is overbudgeted. We further recommend the creation of a in-prison sex offender treatment pilot program, funded from savings generated by our recommended technical adjustments to the Governor's proposal.


The State Has Inadequately Maintained Its Major Investment in Prison Infrastructure

February 21, 2007 - The state faces a growing and costly backlog of special repair work due in part to the way the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has managed and organized the responsibilities for keeping prisons in good repair. We recommend adjustments to an administration proposal to increase spending for these purposes by $46 million, as well as further actions by the Legislature to protect the state's major investment in correctional infrastructure.


Enhancing Public Safety by Increasing Parolee Employment

February 21, 2007 - Estimates are that a majority of state parolees are not regularly employed, a factor which research has shown to be linked to offending. We identify several steps the Legislature should take to increase rates of parolee employment, including targeting funding to cost-effective programs, continuing federal funding, looking outside of California for successful approaches, requiring the department to track parolee employment rates, improving the contracts for parole referral programs, and improving case management.


Governor's Prison Overcrowding Package Is More Balanced But Too Big

February 21, 2007 - The Governor requests a total of $9.6 billion for a 14-part package of proposals designed primarily to address overcrowding in state prisons and county jails. While the package offered by the administration has merit, we identify a number of concerns, in particular that the package would result in a large surplus of state prison capacity and provide the wrong mix of beds. We recommend that the Legislature consider an alternative package that would also address overcrowding but result in a more limited surplus of prison beds, provide a better mix of beds, and reduce state costs.


Juvenile Population Shift Warranted But Construction Funding Not Justified

February 21, 2007 - The Governor's budget proposes to shift some juvenile offenders from the state to the local level and enact a new state grant program to build county juvenile facilities. We find the juvenile institutional population shift proposed by the administration to be fundamentally sound policy, in part because the juvenile system is a generally a local responsibility. Accordingly, we recommend its approval by the Legislature with some technical modifications. However, our analysis indicates that the administration's proposal to provide $400 million in lease-revenue bond funding to build 5,000 new local juvenile beds is not justified given the current surplus of 4,000 such beds statewide.


The California Prison Receivership: An Update

February 21, 2007 - The federal court appointment last year of a Receiver to take over the state's prison medical care system is already resulting in a number of actions intended to improve inmate care as well as significant uncertainties regarding the state costs and savings likely to result from his actions . Our analysis indicates that the Legislature faces uncertainties over the extent of costs and savings resulting from the actions of the Receiver. We also find that there are opportunities for legislative oversight of these major changes in the prison medical system, such as legislative hearings to better understand the fiscal and operational implications of the remedial plan that the Receiver is to submit to the federal court along with metrics to measure progress in improving inmate medical services.


An Update on the Implementation of Proposition 69

February 21, 2007 - Although the Department of Justice has taken steps to reduce a backlog of samples in the Proposition 69 DNA Program, it faces difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff and an expected increase in samples in 2009 that will likely increase the backlog.

Criminal Justice Staff

Anita Lee
(916) 319-8321
Courts, Department of Justice, Gambling
Caitlin O'Neil
(916) 319-8351
State Prisons, County Jails, Sentencing
Jared Sippel
(916) 319-8335
Emergency Services and Business Regulation
Orlando Sanchez Zavala
(916) 319-8307
Correctional Health Care, Rehabilitation Programs, Juvenile Justice, Community Corrections
Drew Soderborg
(916) 319-8346
Deputy Legislative Analyst: Public Safety and Business Regulation