LAO Analysis of the 1996-97 Budget Bill

Board of Prison Terms (5440)

The Board of Prison Terms (BPT) is composed of nine members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate for terms of four years. The BPT considers parole release for all persons sentenced to state prison under the indeterminate sentencing laws. The BPT may also suspend or revoke the parole of any prisoner under its jurisdiction who has violated parole. In addition, the BPT advises the Governor on applications for clemency.

The 1996-97 Governor's Budget proposes $11.8 million from the General Fund for support of the BPT. This is an increase of $898,000, or 8.2 percent, above the estimated expenditures for the current year. The proposed increase is primarily the result of the BPT's role in a new program for the civil commitment of persons deemed to be sexually violent predators (SVPs), as well as the steadily increasing workload for hearing cases of parole violators and indeterminately sentenced prison inmates.

Implementation Problems With the Sexually Violent Predators Program

We withhold recommendation on $813,000 requested for the Sexually Violent Predators program until the Board of Prison Terms and other state agencies responsible for operation of the program resolve a number of significant implementation issues.

Last year, the Legislature and Governor enacted Ch 762/95 (SB 1143, Mountjoy) and Ch 763/95 (AB 888, Rogan), which created the SVP program. Under the program, an inmate who has completed a prison term for certain sex-related offenses, who meets other specified criteria, and who otherwise would be released on parole, would instead be committed under provisions of civil law to state custody for an additional two years at a time. During this time, the inmate would receive treatment for his or her mental disorder. The Governor's Budget provides seven positions and $813,000 to the BPT during 1996-97 for investigations, hearings, and other administrative activities to help determine whether inmates who are being considered for parole are SVPs subject to civil commitment under the program.

We have reviewed the implementation proposal for this program submitted by the BPT and two other implementing agencies, the California Department of Corrections (CDC) and the Department of Mental Health. That review found significant issues with the proposed implementation plan. The issues include (1) the state agencies' use of conflicting caseload estimates in their implementation plan, (2) a significant discrepancy between the funding requested in the budget and prior estimates of the cost of the measure presented to the Legislature just four months ago, (3) the failure of the state agencies to indicate how they will provide facilities to house and treat the numbers of SVPs they intend to commit to state custody, and (4) inconsistencies between the implementation proposal and the bills which enacted the program. We detail those concerns in our analysis of the CDC budget.

Pending resolution of those concerns, we withhold recommendation on the BPT's funding request for implementation of this program.

Increase in Parole Cases Should Be Reviewed Later in Year

We withhold recommendation on $506,000 requested to handle projected increases in the parole hearing workload, pending receipt of updated caseload estimates at the time of the May Revision.

The Governor's Budget includes $506,000 and 5.5 positions to enable the BPT to process a larger number of parole cases. This increase is primarily due to two factors. The BPT projects that the number of inmates with life sentences who are eligible for parole hearings will increase during the budget year. The BPT also projects that it will handle an increased number of parole revocation cases as the number of parolees taken into custody for violation of parole conditions increases.

Our review indicates that the request provides an appropriate amount of funding and positions to accommodate the projected caseload increases. However, those projections are based on the CDC's fall 1995 forecasts of its prison and parole populations. The CDC forecast will be revised this spring and, given recent trends, is likely to include significant changes in the projection of the offender populations upon which the BPT funding request is based. For example, the CDC inmate population is running about 3,000 below the fall 1995 forecast, while the count of CDC parolees is about 1,700 above estimated levels for this time. Meanwhile, the proportion of parolees being returned to prison for parole violations dropped from 59 percent in August 1995 to 45 percent in December 1995. If this trend continues, it could potentially drive down the BPT's parole hearing caseload, and thus reduce the amount of funds needed in the budget year.

We believe it would be appropriate to reassess the BPT's request for these caseload adjustments at the time of the May Revision and base a final allocation of funding on the revised population forecasts released by the CDC this spring. Accordingly, we withhold recommendation, pending receipt of updated caseload projections in May.

The BPT Faces Persistent Backlog Of Hearings and Investigations

The Board of Prison Terms continues to struggle to reduce a significant backlog of parole hearings and investigations. We recommend that the board report at budget hearings on its progress in dealing with the backlog problems.

Revocation Hearings.In our Analysis of the 1995-96 Budget Bill, we called attention to data indicating that the BPT was failing to keep up with its caseload of hearings for parole violators. As we pointed out, there are specific time limits established in statute and by court decision for the board to conduct parole revocation hearings. Failure to meet the hearing deadlines increases the risk of court action to release parole violators whose revocation cases have not been heard by the BPT in a timely fashion.

The BPT assured the Legislature last year that it would address the problem, and has advised that its appointment in July and October 1995 of two new associate chief deputy commissioners will help streamline the calendaring of parole hearings and ease the backlog. Between February and October 1995 (the latest data available), the BPT has been able to reduce the average time it takes to conduct parole revocation hearings within two of its four regions of the state. However, during that same time period, the average time for a hearing has lengthened in the other two regions. Thus, the statewideaverage wait for a revocation hearing was reduced only slightly between February and October 1995 (from an average wait of 45.3 days to an average of 45.2 days), and many hearings are still being held after the legally required deadlines.

Investigations.Last year, we also called attention to the backlog of investigations conducted by the BPT personnel. Recent data indicate that these backlogs are growing. For example, the BPT conducts investigations of death penalty cases in order to provide readily available information to the Governor in the event of applications for executive clemency. Despite a growing backlog of 130 pending death penalty investigations, the BPT anticipates that it will complete none of them in 1995-96 and only 29 in 1996-97. The BPT has advised us that, should the Governor receive a clemency request for a convicted murderer whose investigation is incomplete, the result could be a delay of a scheduled execution.

Likewise, the BPT investigates applications to the Governor for pardons. Although the BPT anticipates completing 230 pardon investigations during 1995-96, the backlog is projected to grow during the current year from 242 to about 350 cases.

Last year, the Legislature appropriated $65,000 for an additional BPT staff investigator, which the BPT indicated would be used to address the death penalty and pardon backlogs. The BPT had indicated that providing a staff member for the Foreign Prisoner Transfer program, which we discuss further below, would free an investigator to return to full-time work on the death penalty and pardon investigations. In its latest budget request, however, the BPT has advised us that staff assigned to handle death penalty and pardon investigations are again being diverted to other purposes.

Given the implications of these workload backlogs, we recommend that the BPT report at budget hearings on its progress in dealing with the problem.

Little Fiscal Savings So Far From Foreign Inmate Transfers

We recommend that a one-year limit be placed on $65,000 in funding provided in the Board of Prison Terms' budget for the Foreign Prisoner Transfer program. We also recommend that the Legislature next year consider suspending or repealing the 1994 legislation which expanded the program should it fail to achieve the intended annual cost-savings by the end of the 1996-97 fiscal year.

The BPT has authority to review and to approve the request of an inmate from a foreign country confined in a state prison to serve out the remainder of his sentence in his or her home country. In an effort to encourage more inmates to seek a transfer to their home country, and thus reduce state prison costs, the Legislature and Governor enacted Ch 416/94 (SB 1744, McCorquodale), which directed the CDC to inform all present inmates, and thereafter all newly arrived inmates, of their opportunity to volunteer for international transfer. Last year, the BPT estimated that the program would save the state $433,000 annually in incarceration costs.

As of September 30, 1995, the CDC had notified 39,182 inmates of their right to apply for foreign transfers. The notification process has prompted 649 inmates to file applications with the BPT. Although 25 inmates have received tentative or final state approval to transfer to their homelands, only three inmates have actually been transferred to other countries.

Fiscal Implications.As a result, the Foreign Prisoner Transfer program has not yet generated the $433,000 in annual savings to the General Fund that the BPT had projected. The diversion of just three inmates means that the state will save, at most, $65,000--or about the amount of funding that was provided to the BPT to investigate these cases. We would note that an unknown additional amount of BPT and CDC funding and staff resources beyond the $65,000 we identify above have been redirected to help implement the expanded Foreign Prisoner Transfer program.

The BPT now advises that it will achieve these annual savings beginning in 1996-97.

Why So Few Transfers?The reason for these limited results vary. The BPT has rejected some foreign transfer applications on the grounds that the inmate involved did not meet the criteria required by international treaties or because the inmate was deemed to pose too great a risk to public safety. Some inmates withdrew their transfer requests and others completed their prison sentences and were paroled before their applications could be processed.

Analyst's Recommendation.Given the disappointing fiscal results to date, we recommend that the program be given just one more year to demonstrate its cost-effectiveness. If most of the 25 inmates whose transfers have been approved by the state actually end up transferring to other countries, the savings achieved could yet prove significant.

Accordingly, we recommend that the funding and personnel allocated to the BPT for the Foreign Prisoner Transfer program be provided on a limited-item basis in the budget year. We would also recommend that the Legislature next year consider suspending or repealing the 1994 legislation which significantly expanded the program if it fails to achieve the level of savings projected by the BPT.

Department of the Youth Authority (5460)

The Department of the Youth Authority is responsible for the protection of society from the criminal and delinquent behavior of young people (generally ages 12 to 24, average age 19). The department operates training and treatment programs that seek to educate, correct, and rehabilitate youthful offenders rather than punish them. The department operates 11 institutions, including two reception centers/clinics, and six conservation camps. In addition, the department supervises parolees through 16 offices located throughout the state.

The budget proposes total expenditures of $436 million for the Youth Authority in 1996-97. This is $5.6 million, or 1.3 percent, more than current-year expenditures. General Fund expenditures total $370 million in the budget year, a decrease of $19.7 million, or 5 percent, below expenditures in 1995-96. The department's proposed General Fund expenditures include $45.7 million in Proposition 98 educational funds.

Approximately 80 percent of the total funds requested for the department is for operation of the department's institutions and camps and 10 percent is for parole and community services. The remaining 10 percent of total funds is for local assistance to counties.

The primary reason for the decrease in General Fund spending for the budget year is the proposed introduction of fee increases to counties; the increases are reflected as reimbursements and are included in both the current-year and proposed budget.

Ward Population Would Remain Stable If Proposed Legislation Is Adopted

The Department of the Youth Authority projects that its institutional population will remain fairly stable over the next several years, growing to 10,500 in the budget year and remaining at approximately that level through 1999-2000. This assumes, however, that legislation will be enacted to transfer custody of some offenders from the Youth Authority to the Department of Corrections. If the legislation is not enacted, the population would grow to almost 12,700 in 1999-2000. Also, Youth Authority parole populations are expected to increase to about 6,100 parolees in the budget year and to about 6,200 parolees by the end of 1999-2000.

The Youth Authority's fall 1995 ward population projections (which form the basis for the 1996-97 Governor's Budget) estimate that the number of wards housed in the Youth Authority will remain relatively stable, growing at an average annual rate of less than 1 percent over the next five years (through 1999-2000), reaching just over 10,500 incarcerated wards on June 30, 2000. These estimates, however, assume the enactment of legislation that would transfer responsibility for some offenders from the Youth Authority to the Department of Corrections (CDC) (the change is discussed below). If the proposed legislation is not enacted, the Youth Authority's population would increase almost 30 percent to about 12,700 wards by 1999-2000. The growth would be driven primarily by projected increases in the state's juvenile population.

The Youth Authority also projects little change in the number of parolees it supervises. Figure 18 shows the Youth Authority's institutional and parolee populations from 1994-95 through 1999-2000.

Who Is in the Youth Authority?There are several ways that an individual can be committed to the Youth Authority's institution and camp population, including:

Budget Assumes Enactment of Legislation. The Youth Authority expects that legislation proposed by the administration will significantly reduce the number of "M cases" housed at the Youth Authority. Specifically, the Youth Authority assumes that legislation will be enacted that will transfer responsibility for all new "M cases," age 18 or older, to state prison. "M cases" who are under age 18, would still be sent to the Youth Authority and transferred to the CDC when they turn 18. Consequently, the number of new "M case" admissions to the Youth Authority in the budget year and future years will decline significantly. We discuss the proposed legislation in greater detail below.

Characteristics of the Youth Authority Wards.Wards in Youth Authority institutions are predominately male, 19 years old on average, and come primarily from southern California, with 34 percent coming from Los Angeles County. Hispanics make up the largest racial and ethnic group in Youth Authority institutions, accounting for 46 percent of the total population. African Americans make up almost 30 percent of the population, whites are 15 percent, and Asians and others are approximately 9 percent.

Most Wards Committed for Violent Offenses. In 1995, 65 percent of the wards housed in departmental institutions were committed for a violent offense, such as homicide, robbery, and assault. In contrast, only 42 percent of the CDC's population has been incarcerated for violent offenses. The number of wards incarcerated for property offenses, such as burglary and auto theft, was 22 percent of the total population. The number of wards incarcerated for drug offenses was just under 7 percent in 1995. Figure 19 shows the population of the Youth Authority by type of offense.

Violent Offender Population Has Increased. The Youth Authority has seen substantial increases in its violent offender population. Since 1983, the institutional population of violent offenders has increased almost 50 percent, or at an average annual rate of over 5 percent. On December 31, 1995, the Youth Authority housed 1,288 murderers, or about 13 percent of the total institutional population. Of these wards, about 78 percent were committed by juvenile courts. The remaining 22 percent had been sentenced in criminal court. Figure 20 shows the trends in offender populations at the Youth Authority.

Average Incarceration. Wards committed to the Youth Authority for violent offenses serve longer periods of incarceration than offenders committed for property or drug offenses. Because of the increase in violent offender commitments, the average length of stay for a ward in an institution will increase. For example, the Youth Authority estimates that the average time until parole consideration for all wards is 24.9 months for new admissions in 1995-96, compared to 22.7 months in 1994-95, and 17.9 months in 1989-90.

Wards Tend to Have Longer Periods of Incarceration When Committed by Juvenile Court. For almost all types of offenses--except murder and rape--wards committed to the Youth Authority by juvenile courts are incarcerated for longer periods than if they had been sentenced to the CDC by criminal courts under laws that apply to adults. As Figure 21 shows, juvenile court commitments serve longer periods than inmates at the CDC. The extra time served ranges from over 75 percent more time for grand theft to over 7 percent more time for first degree burglary. Juveniles convicted as adults and given CDC sentences, but because of their age are sent to the Youth Authority, serve the average CDC term, not the average Youth Authority term.

Figure 21
Time Served for Selected Offenses
Youth Authority and the CDC
(In Months)
Offense Youth Authoritya CDCb
Manslaughter 49.6 41.6
Robbery 37.3 27.5
Assault with deadly weapon 35.0 22.2
Child molestation 38.3 34.7
Burglary (first degree) 28.5 26.5
Burglary (second degree) 13.4 11.6
Grand theft 20.0 11.4
Arson 23.1 18.3
Possession for sale 22.3 16.6
a Wards committed to Youth Authority by juvenile courts.
b Inmates.

The longer sentences are explained in part by the fact that wards committed by the juvenile court serve "indeterminate" periods of incarceration, rather than a specified period of incarceration. Wards receive a parole consideration date when they are first admitted to the Youth Authority, based on their commitment offense. Time can be added, or reduced by the Youthful Offender Parole Board, based on the ward's behavior and whether the ward has completed rehabilitation programs. In contrast, juveniles and adults sentenced in criminal court serve "determinate" sentences--generally a fixed number of years--that can be reduced by "work" credits and time served prior to sentencing.

Ward and Parolee Population Projections Will Be Updated in May

We withhold recommendation on a $1.6 million decrease from the General Fund based on projected ward and parolee population changes, pending enactment of proposed legislation and receipt and analysis of the revised budget proposal and population projections to be contained in the May Revision.

Ward and Parolee Population in the Budget Year.The Youth Authority population is projected to decrease at the end of the budget year. This reduction is principally the consequence of assumed enactment of legislation that would divert "M cases" age 18 and older from the Youth Authority to the CDC. This action is expected to reduce the Youth Authority's population by 240 wards, or 2 percent, below the current-year estimate. The budget requests a decrease of $1.6 million ($1.1 million from the General Fund and $520,000 from Proposition 98) as a result of this reduction in caseload.

The parole population is projected to be 6,225 by June 30, 1997, a decrease of 110 parolees, or 2 percent less than June 30, 1996.

Action on Ward and Parolee Caseloads Should Await Actions by the Legislature and the May Revision.The department will submit a revised budget proposal as part of the May Revision that will reflect more current population projections. These revised projections could affect the department's request for funding.

For example, as we note above, the institutional population for the budget year could be up to 7 percent higher if the Youth Authority must continue to house "M cases." If proposed legislation is not enacted, Youth Authority populations will increase, resulting in an upward adjustment in the budget.

Furthermore, other factors may increase the Youth Authority population. For example, the loss of federal funding for juvenile offenders housed in county facilities, could result in some counties closing a significant number of local juvenile facilities. The closure of local facilities limits judicial placement options, which could mean that more juveniles are sent to the Youth Authority. (We discuss this issue below.)

Given these uncertainties, we withhold recommendation on the proposed $1.6 million decrease reflecting anticipated ward and parolee population changes, pending receipt and analysis of the revised budget proposal.

Legislation to Transfer "M Cases" Should Be Enacted

We recommend enactment of legislation proposed by the administration to transfer the custody of "M cases" from the Department of the Youth Authority to the California Department of Corrections because incarceration of these inmates in the Youth Authority is inconsistent with the department's mission.

The budget proposes enactment of legislation that will have an impact on the Youth Authority's population. Specifically, the budget proposes legislation to transfer responsibility for housing "M cases" to the CDC.

The administration is proposing to eliminate "M case" placements in the Youth Authority of any inmates age 18 or older, and requiring the transfer of inmates to state prison when they reach the age of 18, beginning July 1, 1996. The Youth Authority has prepared its budget and population estimates assuming enactment of these changes. It is estimated that when this change is fully implemented there will be net state savings of about $2.1 million annually, consisting of savings to the Youth Authority of more than $5 million, partially offset by costs to the CDC of about $2.9 million.

The transfer would also lead to a significant reduction in overcrowding in the Youth Authority facilities--from a projected 189 percent in 2000-2001 to 158 percent. Figure 22 shows Youth Authority overcrowding with and without "M cases."

"M Cases" Inconsistent with the Youth Authority's Mission.We recommend that the Governor's proposed legislation be enacted. In the Analysis of the 1994-95 Budget Bill, we recommended enactment of legislation to transfer all "M cases" age 18 or older to the CDC because incarceration of these inmates in the Youth Authority is inconsistent with the department's mission of rehabilitating juvenileoffenders. For example, most of the Youth Authority's wards are enrolled in education or specialized rehabilitative programs. In contrast, most "M cases" do not participate in these programs due to their relatively older age or failure to meet placement requirements.

New Fees to Counties for Youth Authority Placements

In late January 1996, the Legislature enacted, and the Governor signed, legislation to increase the fees that counties pay to the state for commitment of juvenile offenders to the Department of the Youth Authority. The new fees will take effect almost one year later than the date assumed in the Governor's Budget. As a consequence, the state will receive about $35 million less in revenues over the current and budget years than the amount anticipated in the Governor's Budget.

The Governor's Budget proposed the enactment of legislation to increase the fees that counties pay the state for placement of juvenile offenders in the Youth Authority. The Legislature enacted the new fees in Ch 6/96 (SB 681, Hurtt) on January 30, 1996, and the Governor signed the bill on February 1, 1996.

Increased Monthly Fees.Currently, counties pay the state $25 each month ($300 annually) for each offender sent to the Youth Authority. The $25 monthly fee was set in 1961, and has not been adjusted since then. Chapter 6 increased the fee to $150 per offender per month, or $1,800 annually per offender, to account for the effects of inflation since 1961. Although a significant increase, the proposed fee is still substantially below the Youth Authority's average annual cost of $31,200 per offender.

"Sliding Fee Scale."In addition, the Governor's Budget proposed, and Chapter 6 enacted, a "sliding fee scale" for offenders sent by counties to the Youth Authority. When a ward is sent to the Youth Authority, the Youthful Offender Parole Board assigns the ward a category number--from 1 to 7--based on the seriousness of the commitment offense. Generally, wards in categories 1 through 4 are considered the most serious offenders, while categories 5 through 7 are less serious. Under this legislation, counties would pay 100 percent of the costs of wards in category 7 (the least serious offense category), 75 percent of the costs for wards in category 6, and 50 percent of the costs for wards in category 5. Counties would pay the proposed $150 per month fee for all other commitments. Wards in categories 5, 6, and 7 generally spend less than 18 months in Youth Authority institutions. Similar types of offenders who are placed in county-run facilities often spend less than six months in the facilities.

Later Implementation Will Cost State.The budget assumed enactment of legislation making these two fees effective on February 1, 1996. Consequently, the Youth Authority's 1996-97 budget proposal incorporated these changes for both the current and the budget years. The budget assumed that the fees would have generated combined revenues (shown as reimbursements in the Youth Authority's budget) of $7.5 million in the current year and $37.8 million in the budget year. However, Chapter 6 provides that the new fees will not become effective until January 1, 1997, or 11 months later than the budget anticipated.

As a consequence, the state will receive none of the anticipated current-year revenues and only about $10 million in the budget year, or a total of $35.3 million less than was anticipated over the two fiscal years.

The Youth Authority and Legislature Will Need to Monitor Implementation of New Sliding Scale Fees.We believe that care must be taken to ensure that counties do not modify their criminal charging patterns in order to avoid the sliding scale fees. This is an area where counties have substantial discretion. For example, offenders who commit certain types of robbery would be subject to a fee. But, if the district attorney decided that the possession of a knife by the offender (whether it was used in the crime or not), made the offense armed robbery or assault with a deadly weapon, instead of simple robbery, then the ward would not be subject to a fee. Under such a scenario, not only would the county avoid the additional costs of the Youth Authority placement, but it could result in additional state costs. This is because the ward would likely be incarcerated in the Youth Authority for a longer period of time than he or she would otherwise. For these reasons it will be important for the Youth Authority and the Legislature to closely monitor the commitment patterns of counties following the implementation of the sliding scale fees.

Overcrowding Likely to Continue and May Worsen

We recommend that the Department of the Youth Authority report during budget hearings on what actions it will take to alleviate institutional overcrowding. Specifically, the Youth Authority should report on a range of options, including whether (1) it should stop accepting nonviolent, nonserious offenders, (2) reduce the level of programming for offenders serving long sentences, and (3) limit programming for wards over the age of 18.

Background.The Youth Authority institutions are currently overcrowded and will likely remain so in the coming years. Three elements drive the Youth Authority's institutional overcrowding:

  • Growth of the State's Juvenile Population. We estimate that California's juvenile population between the ages of 11 and 17 (the juveniles most likely to commit crime) will increase over 30 percent by 2004. An increase of this magnitude will probably lead to higher levels of juvenile crime and commensurate increases in Youth Authority commitments.
  • The Rate of Admissions from Each County.As admission rates have fluctuated in the past, the Youth Authority population has also changed. If admissions rates from the counties increase in the future, there would be an increase in the institutional population.
  • Lengths of Stay.The average length of stay for juvenile court commitments in the Youth Authority is projected to increase from 26.1 months in the current year to 30 months by 1999-2000. A significant part of the projected increase in the average length of stay is due to the effects of overcrowding. When institutions are overcrowded, wards have less access to programs which they must have before they are allowed to be paroled, thereby resulting in a longer institutional stay.

The Governor's proposal to transfer responsibility for "M cases" from the Youth Authority to the CDC will allow the Youth Authority populations to remain at about 155 percent to 160 percent through 2000. In the absence of this change, overcrowding will increase.

Other Actions Are Needed to Reduce Overcrowding. While we support the administration's "M cases" proposal, we believe this action by itself is insufficient to fully address the problem of overcrowding and that further actions are necessary. Reducing overcrowding would benefit the state by allowing wards better access to rehabilitative programs. To the extent that these programs are successful, they would lead to lower recidivism and greater public safety. In addition, overall Youth Authority costs would be held in check as average lengths of stay decline.

What Can the Youth Authority Do? There are both long- and short-term options for reducing overcrowding and its effects. As a long-term solution, the Youth Authority is proposing to add 1,450 new beds by adding new living units and associated program space to existing institutions. The funding for these new beds will be included in the Governor's November 1996 bond proposal. Completion of these proposed new beds would result in overcrowding decreasing to under 130 percent by 2001 (assuming the "M case" legislation is also enacted). But, even if the building proposal is adopted, it will take at least three years after approval of the proposed construction bonds to complete these new facilities. Furthermore, adding new living units does not necessarily address the problem of providing required programming for wards. In fact, in the Capital Outlay chapter of this Analysis,we recommend that the Legislature not approve the proposed expansion because we believe that the Youth Authority does not need additional living units. We indicate that an alternative proposal to build new programmingspace that might be needed may warrant the Legislature's consideration.

We believe that there are other steps the Youth Authority can take in the short-term to reduce overcrowding:

  • Refuse Nonviolent, Nonserious Offenders. In general, the Youth Authority has limited ability to refuse commitments. The Youth Authority Director, however, could be authorized to refuse commitments of wards who fall in the less serious offense categories or who would be committed for six months or less. Counties could handle such cases locally while more serious offenders who could benefit more from the department's programs could be sent to the state. If less serious and shorter-term offenders were removed from the Youth Authority's population, overcrowding could be reduced from over 155 percent to 134 percent by the end of the budget year. This population reduction would also result in General Fund savings of over $18 million.
  • Reduce Programming for Inmates or Wards Serving Long Sentences. Under current law, when a ward or inmate is admitted to the Youth Authority he or she receives a plan for rehabilitative programs, training, and education regardless of the amount of time he or she is likely to serve. The Youth Authority could reduce the amount of programming provided to wards who are going to serve relatively long sentences. As a consequence, the Youth Authority could give service priority to the wards who will be paroled much earlier. While we are not suggesting that these offenders receive no programming, they should not receive allof the services the department has to offer, especially in their early years of incarceration, when their return to the community is decades away. Instead, programming could be targeted to meet their current needs.
    • Limit Programming for Older Wards. Over 65 percent of the juvenile court-committed population in the Youth Authority is age 18 or older. We believe that priority for programming should be given to younger wards who may benefit more from such services. Applying the same programming criteria to older wards is questionable, especially if the completion of the programming deprives a younger ward from completing the same program.

    Analyst's Recommendation. Given the Youth Authority's current and projected overcrowding, even in light of the proposed transfer of "M cases", the department should report during budget hearings on what actions it will take to reduce overcrowding. Specifically, the Youth Authority should include a review of the following: (1) statutory or regulatory changes that are necessary in order not to accept nonviolent, nonserious offenders; (2) restrict programming to juvenile court-committed wards; (3) limit programming for wards over the age of 18; and (4) provide a lower level of programming for inmates and wards serving long sentences.

    Loss of Federal Funds for Local Juvenile Services
    Could Lead to Increased Youth Authority Placements

    We recommend that the Department of the Youth Authority report during budget hearings on (1) the status of federal funding for local juvenile probation services, (2) the impact county camp and ranch closures would have on Youth Authority populations, (3) the impact the closures would have on other state programs, and (4) whether the provision of $33 million in state funds for ranches and camps will avert major closures.

    Background.Placement of juvenile offenders in local juvenile halls, usually for short stays, and in county ranches and camps, usually for stays of four to six months, are placement options available to most county probation departments. While there are currently more than 6,300 juvenile hall beds and more than 3,900 county ranch/camp beds, there is currently a statewide shortage of bed space. Juveniles placed in juvenile halls usually are awaiting court action. Many of these youths are being detained for very serious or violent offenses. In many counties juveniles arrested for property offenses are not detained in juvenile halls, due to the current space shortage.

    Ranch and camp beds are placements for offenders whose cases have been adjudicated in court. Juveniles who have been adjudicated for very serious offenses, such as murder, can be placed in camps. While placed in a ranch or camp, the offender receives a variety of rehabilitative

    programming and attends school. Recently, counties have received both federal and state funds to support their local juvenile facilities.

    Federal Funds for Local Juvenile Offenders. In 1993, Los Angeles County, on behalf of California counties with ranches and camps, sought federal funding for juveniles that receive services in juvenile halls, ranches and camps, or other probation services. Subsequently, the federal government approved federal Title IVA (emergency assistance) funding on an interim basis. All 58 counties were authorized to receive a share of Title IVA funding for these juveniles. The anticipated Title IVA funding for 1995-96 was $162 million.

    In September 1995, the federal government notified the state that, starting January 1996, juvenile offenders would no longer be eligible for these funds. In other action, the Congress, as part of overall welfare reforms, would have included emergency assistance funding as part of state block grants. These reforms have been vetoed by the President.

    State Aid to County Juvenile Detention Facilities. In the 1993 Budget Act, the Legislature appropriated $33 million from the General Fund to support county ranches and camps. However, this funding was deleted in 1994-95, primarily because of the substantial increase in the amounts of federal funds available to counties under Title IVA.

    Chapter 7, Statutes of 1996 (AB 1483, Villaraigosa), which was enacted by the Legislature on January 30, 1996 and signed by the Governor on February 2, 1996, provides $32.7 million in the current year for counties with camps and ranches. The Governor's Budget proposes the same amount for 1996-97 in the Budget Bill. In addition, the Governor is also proposing that the administration ensure that, if federal block grants for welfare reform are approved, probation services that previously received Title IVA funds would continue to be fully funded. Adoption of the Governor's proposal and appropriation of state funds to counties with ranches and camps could partially offset the loss of federal funds.

    Los Angeles County Juvenile Facilities.Los Angeles County's juvenile offender placement decisions can substantially impact the state. Although Los Angeles accounts for over 34 percent of the Youth Authority's new admissions, most county juvenile offenders are kept in the county rather than being placed in the Youth Authority. The Los Angeles County probation department reports that over 40 percent of its juvenile offenders are placed in local camps. Los Angeles County accounts for 43 percent of the state's total county ranch and camp beds. As a consequence, the county was the largest recipient of Title IVA federal funding, over $50 million in 1995-96. The county's share of camp funds from Chapter 7 will probably be about $17 million.

    In contrast, only 6 percent of Los Angeles' juvenile offenders are placed in the Youth Authority. In fact, the level of new admissions from Los Angeles has declined in recent years, as shown in Figure 23. For 1994-95, Los Angeles' admission rate was 24 percent less than the rest of the state.

    The county reports that the loss of federal monies would result in the closure of the majority of its camps as early as February 1996. Whether receipt of funding under Chapter 7 will keep the camps open is unknown.

    Camp Closures Could Lead to Higher State Costs.Several counties, in addition to Los Angeles, are reporting that as a consequence of the loss of federal funding they will close camp beds. Our analysis indicates that closure of county camps and ranches could result in large increases in ward population and, in turn, increase General Fund costs substantially. If the level of Youth Authority admissions from Los Angeles County increased because of camp closures to just the rate of the rest of the state, it could result in an extra 225 juvenile admissions annually, at an additional cost of at least $6.8 million. More likely, however, of the approximately 5,700 annual Los Angeles camp placements, a much higher number would be sent to the Youth Authority, if no county alternative were available. The Governor's Budget and the Youth Authority's ward and parole population projections do not account for any reductions in county programs.

    Potential Increase in Foster Care Caseloads and Costs. The closure of county camps and ranches could result in increased Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) Foster Care costs. Recent information from Los Angeles County indicates an increasing use of foster care group homes and family homes as placement options. It is reasonable to expect that this choice of placement would extend to any county where camp facilities are closed due to the loss of federal funding. In California, a group home placement costs an average of about $3,000 per month and a family home foster care placement averages $550 per month although these costs could be higher for probationers. The state pays a share of costs for these placements depending on whether the youth is eligible for AFDC. Significant increases in the number of these placements could result in added state costs totaling in the tens of millions of dollars annually.

    Analyst's Recommendation. Given this situation, we recommend that the Youth Authority report during budget hearings on (1) the status of federal funding for local juvenile probation services, (2) the impact camp closures will have on Youth Authority populations, (3) the impact camp closures would have on other state programs, and (4) whether the provision of $33 million in state funds for ranches and camps will avert major closures.

    Proposed Youth Authority Local Assistance Programs Should Require Local Match

    We recommend that the Legislature direct the Department of the Youth Authority to incorporate share of cost or local match requirements into its proposed local assistance programs. Such requirements would leverage additional funds thereby allowing more local agencies to participate in the programs and increasing the number of juveniles served.

    Governor's Initiatives. The Youth Authority budget proposes funding for programs that are part of two larger administration initiatives.

    • "Mentoring of At-Risk Youth." The Governor's Budget includes $15 million to expand the California Mentor Initiative, with the goal of linking 250,000 mentors with one million at-risk youths by the year 2000. These expenditures include $7 million within the Department of Community Services and Development, $5 million within the Office of Child Development and Education for the California Academic Volunteer and Mentor Corps, and $3 million for the Youth Authority to expand the Young Men as Fathers program, as described below.
    • "Cracking the Culture of Gangs." In addition to a variety of proposed law changes, the Governor's Budget proposes adding $3.1 million for expanding anti-gang programs of the Youth Authority and $3 million for two gang-related programs of the Office of Criminal Justice Planning (OCJP).

    Young Men as Fathers/Preparing for Positive Parenting Programs. The Youth Authority estimates that more than 23 percent of its institutional population are fathers and many more wards will become parents when they leave the Youth Authority. In 1993, under a federal grant, the Youth Authority established parenting programs that focus on the needs of incarcerated males--the Young Men as Fathers program and the Preparing for Positive Parenting program.

    The Young Men as Fathers program consists of a 60-hour curriculum in Youth Authority institutions, taught by specially trained teachers and augmented by guest speakers from the community. The program teaches wards about the responsibilities of being a parent and includes information on child development, communication, family planning, domestic violence, and other important parenting elements. As of June 1995, 768 wards had participated in this program. Of these participants, 62 percent were fathers and an additional 6 percent had pregnant wives or girlfriends.

    The Preparing for Positive Parenting program is available to parolees. The program consists of ten two-hour classes taught by parenting educators. As of December 1995, there were 138 participants in the program, 86 who had graduated. Of the graduates, 56 percent were fathers and a further 9 percent had pregnant wives or girlfriends.

    Testing of the wards who have completed these programs shows significant increases in both the knowledge of good parenting practices and in self-esteem.

    Gang Violence Reduction Project.The Youth Authority operates a Gang Violence Reduction Project (GVRP) in the unincorporated area of East Los Angeles. The GVRP is staffed by both Youth Authority parole agents and community youth resource specialists--former gang members who live in the community where they serve. The GVRP meets with local gangs and mediates feuds. In addition, the GVRP staff provide gang intelligence to local law enforcement agencies. The staff also conducts extensive gang prevention activities in the community.

    While this program has not been formally evaluated, local law enforcement agencies, the county office of education, and a variety of civic and community groups have attested to the effectiveness of the GVRP in reducing gang activities in their service area. Our review of the program showed that the GVRP staff were responsible for reductions of gang violence in schools.

    Expanding the Youth Authority Programs to Local Agencies.The Youth Authority is requesting $3 million for local assistance funding to expand the Young Men as Fathers/Preparing for Positive Parenting programs to county probation departments. The Youth Authority would distribute grant funding on a competitive basis to counties to pay instructor's salaries, provide instructional materials, arrange family activities for program participants and their children, and develop mentoring programs for minors who are fathers or father-figures. Funds would be available to adapt the Youth Authority programs for use in juvenile halls, county ranches or camps, alternative schools, or probation offices.

    As noted above, there are almost 8,000 beds in county-run juvenile detention facilities. Furthermore, at any one time, over 50,000 juveniles are under some form of probation supervision. It is unknown how many of these juveniles are also fathers, but it is reasonable to assume a large number of these individuals are already fathers or might become fathers.

    The Youth Authority assumes in its request that between 50 and 60 grants will be awarded, evenly divided between northern and southern California. A typical program would consist of four training sessions a year; including 60 hours of instruction, one family event, and a mentor component. In estimating the local costs of the programs, the costs for instructors is the largest component--estimated to be almost 80 percent of the cost.

    In addition to the parenting programs, the Youth Authority is requesting $656,000 ($552,000 in one-time costs and $104,000 in ongoing costs) to fund two more GVRP projects. The Youth Authority anticipates that grantees will be selected using a competitive process. The grantees will not have to use Youth Authority staff, but must use the GVRP model.

    Local Match Could Leverage More Grants. The Youth Authority assumes that its grant amounts would fund the majority of costs of each county's parenting and GVRP programs. However, we believe that requiring counties to provide a share of costs or some other match of funds would leverage additional funds, thereby allowing more local agencies to participate in these programs. Moreover, it would show the commitment of the local agency to maintaining the program.

    We believe that these matches could be relatively easily provided. For example, county offices of education already have staff and access to classrooms at each of California's juvenile halls, ranches, and camps. Consequently, if a county office of education provided at least the partial cost of an instructor for the parenting program, the amount of grant funds needed by each county could be reduced.

    The GVRP model also lends itself to a local share of cost or match. First, because the model uses peace officers to mitigate gang violence (parole agents in the current GVRP), local agencies could provide sworn personnel to enlarge the reach of the program. The GVRP model also relies on community resources. Again, requiring a specific level of community participation could expand the effectiveness of the program. We would also note that the OCJP gang violence suppression grants have a 10 percent local match requirement.

    For these reasons, we recommend that the Legislature direct the Youth Authority to require a local share of cost or local match for these programs.

    Oversight Needed for Tattoo Removal Proposal

    We recommend that the Legislature adopt Budget Bill language to limit the use of funds for tattoo removal. We also recommend that the Legislature adopt supplemental report language to require the Youth Authority to report on the costs and scope of its tattoo removal program.

    The Youth Authority is requesting $800,000 for ward tattoo removals. Tattoos are used to show gang membership. Oftentimes, tattoos are placed on the hands, face, or visible areas of the neck. If a ward seeks to leave the gang "lifestyle," a tattoo often makes it difficult to find a job or reenter society. Therefore, the Youth Authority is requesting funding for tattoo removal.

    Since 1994, 35 wards have had tattoos removed by volunteer physicians. The Youth Authority's proposed program would contract with physicians to pay for tattoo removals. The department estimates that roughly half of its wards who are gang members have visible tattoos--about 4,500--and that about one-third of these wards will volunteer for removal. The estimate assumes it will cost about $600 for each removal.

    Since the Youth Authority has never attempted a program on this scale, it is difficult to estimate the number of wards who will request removal of tattoos, and consequently the costs of the program. For this

    reason, we recommend that the Legislature adopt the following Budget Bill language to limit the use of the requested funds:

    Of the funds appropriated in this item, $800,000 is for voluntary tattoo removal. Any funds not used for this purpose shall revert to the General Fund.

    In addition, we recommend the adoption of the following supplemental report language directing the Youth Authority to report on the new program.

    The Department of the Youth Authority shall report to the Legislature on December 1, 1996, on (1) the number of wards that have received tattoo removals and (2) the total costs of the program and the average cost of each removal.

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