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State Corrections: Response to COVID-19


The 2021-22 Budget: State Correctional Population Outlook

November 19, 2020 - In this analysis, we (1) provide an overview of the state correctional population; (2) discuss our projections of the population through 2024-25, and (3) comment on how changes in the sizes of these populations could impact state correctional costs in both the near and long term. Specifically, we estimate that the number of inmates, parolees, and wards in the state’s correctional system will significantly decline due to two main factors—operational changes that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and various policy changes recently enacted that will further reduce the size of the state correctional population in the long term. We also estimate that these population declines will substantially slow the expected growth in CDCR’s overall projected costs through 2024-25—partially through the closure of five prisons. This publication is part of our The 2021-22 Budget: California’s Fiscal Outlook series.


[PDF] The 2023-24 Budget: The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

February 16, 2023 - This brief provides our analysis of the Governor’s 2023-24 budget proposals related to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.


[PDF] Overview of Major Public Safety Proposals in the 2020-21 May Revision

May 21, 2020 - Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 5 on Public Safety


State Correctional Spending Increased Despite Significant Population Reductions

February 4, 2020 - In this brief, we find that the major reasons why CDCR’s costs did not decline in line with the substantial decrease in the populations are: (1) costly operational changes to comply with various federal court orders, (2) increased employee compensation costs, and (3) the payment of costs that were deferred during the state’s fiscal crisis. However, we note that had the inmate population not declined over this period, CDCR spending would have increased by billions of dollars more than it actually did.


[PDF] The 2022-23 Budget: Governor's Proposals for CDCR Operations

February 8, 2022 - This publication provides our assessment and recommendations on the Governor’s 2022-23 budget proposals related to California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation operations.


The 2020-21 Spending Plan: Judiciary and Criminal Justice

October 22, 2020 - This post provides an overview of the major judiciary and criminal justice proposals approved as part of the 2020-21 budget package. The 2020 21 budget provides $15.9 billion from the General Fund for judicial and criminal justice programs, including support for program operations and capital outlay projects. This is a decrease of $207 million, or 1.3 percent, below the revised 2019 20 spending level.


Overview and Update on the Prison Receivership

November 8, 2023 - California’s prison medical system has been under direct management of a Receiver appointed by a federal court since 2006 because the state was found to be providing unconstitutional levels of care. In this brief, we provide an overview of the establishment of the Receivership, changes to prison medical care made by the Receiver, and the steps that the state needs to complete in order to exit the Receivership. We also raise some issues for legislative consideration related to the Receivership.


The 2014-15 Budget: Governor's Criminal Justice Proposals

February 19, 2014 - In the report we provide an analysis of the Governor's budget proposals for state criminal justice programs, including the judicial branch, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), and various proposals related to local public safety. The report reviews the most significant proposals in these departments and offers corresponding recommendations for the Legislature's consideration. For example, we recommend that the Legislature take several actions to improve the administration’s approach to trial court funding, including the current trial court reserves policy. In addition, we review the administration’s proposals related to correctional relief staffing and overtime and make a series of recommendations to reduce spending on staffing and overtime and make CDCR's staffing process more cost-efficient.


[PDF] The 2017‑18 Budget: Implementation of Proposition 57

April 6, 2017 - In November 2016, voters approved Proposition 57, which made various changes affecting the state’s adult and youth correctional systems. In this report, we first describe state law and practice prior to the implementation of Proposition 57 and provide a description of the provisions of the measure. We then describe and assess the administration’s proposals to implement Proposition 57 and provide various recommendations for legislative consideration.


[PDF] Impact of Recent Criminal Justice Policies on the State Correctional Population

February 23, 2017 - Presented to: Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee


The 2021-22 Spending Plan: Judiciary and Criminal Justice

October 6, 2021 - This post provides an overview of the major judiciary and criminal justice proposals approved as part of the 2021-22 budget package. The 2021‑22 budget provides $17.3 billion from the General Fund for judicial and criminal justice programs. This is an increase of $2.3 billion (15 percent) above the revised 2020‑21 spending level.


[PDF] Corrections Spending and Impact of Possible Inmate Population Reduction

February 24, 2009 - Presented to: Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 4 on State Administration


A Status Report: Reducing Prison Overcrowding in California

August 5, 2011 - On May 23, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in a lawsuit against the state involving prison overcrowding. Specifically, the court upheld the ruling of a federal three–judge panel requiring the state to reduce overcrowding in its prisons to 137.5 percent of its “design capacity” within two years. The court’s decision will almost certainly result in some of the most dramatic changes to the state’s prison system in decades. The realignment plan that the Legislature recently enacted could go a long way toward meeting the court’s requirements. Our analysis, however, indicates that the realignment plan alone is unlikely to reduce overcrowding sufficiently within the two–year deadline set by the court. This indicates to us that, as the U.S. Supreme Court suggested, a somewhat longer timeframe is warranted. In addition, we recommend that the Legislature consider how the overcrowding reduction will affect the types of prison facilities California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has planned to build. Finally, we recommend that the Legislature provide CDCR with more flexibility to use contract beds in order to manage overcrowding, particularly in the near term. Addressing these issues would help to better plan for a dramatically reduced state inmate population within the state’s current fiscal situation.