The budget proposes expenditures of $57.2 million in 1997-98, including $28.1 million from the General fund. This is about $26.9 million, or 88 percent, more than estimated current expenditures. The increase is due to implementation of the juvenile justice local assistance grant programs and a new program to provide federal prison construction funds to jails and local juvenile detention facilities (we discuss this new program below).
Federal Funds for Local Correctional Facilities. The 1994 Federal Crime Bill authorized $10.3 billion over five years as grants to states for programs to construct prisons, incarcerate criminal aliens, pay for tribal land incarceration, and provide support for federal prisoners in nonfederal institutions. The purpose of the federal grants is to increase a state's capacity to house violent offenders. The funds may be used to build or expand correctional facilities. The federal law provides that up to 15 percent of a state's award can be distributed to local governments for expanding or improving jails or juvenile facilities.
California has already received $60.5 million of the funds appropriated for federal fiscal year 1996, and the administration anticipates that the state will receive a total of almost $420 million over the five-year program. Of this total, the administration proposes to allocate $62 million to the Board of Corrections to distribute as grants to counties for local correctional facilities through 2001-02.
No Plan for Administration of Funds. The budget proposes a first installment of $15.1 million for 1997-98, which includes $14.9 million in grants and $202,000 for support of the board to administer this program. However, the board has not submitted a plan to the Legislature for expending its administrative funds. Consequently, although the budget includes $202,000 for the board to administer this program, the Legislature does not have any backup detail to support this expenditure.
In our review of the administration's overall proposal for use of the federal prison funds (please see the Capital Outlay chapter in this Analysis), we recommend an alternative allocation plan for the federal funds in which the share for local facilities would be slightly larger in 1997-98. Whether the Legislature ultimately adopts the Governor's proposal or our plan, the board will need a level of administrative support. Thus, we recommend that the board submit to the Legislature, prior to budget hearings, its plan for administering the federal prison construction funds.
The proposed 1997-98 Governor's Budget for the support of the BPT is $13.1 million from the General Fund. This is an increase of $794,000, or 6.5 percent, above estimated expenditures for the current year. The current-year amount includes a deficiency allocation of $557,000 for unbudgeted workload increases in the current year, which is carried into the base budget for 1997-98, bringing the total increase relative to the 1996-97 Budget Act to $1.4 million. The proposed current and budget year increases are primarily the result of the steadily increasing workload for hearing cases of parole violators and indeterminately sentenced prison inmates and a request to restore funding for a program to transfer state prisoners who are foreigners back to their home countries.
We recommend a General Fund reduction of $148,000 and 1.4 personnel-years due to technical errors in the funding request that overstate the funding and personnel needed for the Board of Prison Terms to carry out its work. (Reduce Item 5440-001-0001 by $148,000.)
The Governor's budget includes an additional $1.3 million and 14.2 personnel-years to enable the BPT to process an increasing number of parole cases and investigations. The BPT projects that it will have to increase the number of hearings it conducts for inmates with life sentences who are requesting release on parole. The BPT also projects that it will handle an increased number of cases of parolees taken into custody by the California Department of Corrections (CDC) parole agents for violation of parole conditions to determine whether they should be returned to prison.
The number of investigations conducted by the BPT is also projected to rise. Among other matters, 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. The BPT also investigates applications to the Governor for pardons.
Request for Funding and Positions Overstated. We have reviewed a series of six proposals contained in the Governor's budget that would provide $1.3 million in additional funding and 14.2 personnel-years in 1997-98 based on projected increases in the BPT workload. Based on our analysis of these proposals, we believe an additional $1.2 million in funding and 12.8 personnel-years is justified.
Our review found that the balance of the request--$148,000 and 1.4 personnel-years--is not justified for two technical reasons. First, we found a problem with the way the Board of Prison Terms calculated the projected growth in its workload that overstates the size of the workload increase anticipated by the BPT. Second, there is no evidence to support the BPT's assumption that a new CDC program to capture parole absconders would increase its hearing caseload. Specifically, recent CDC data indicate that the total number of parole violators being returned to state custody is less than projected. Correction of these two technical problems would reduce the BPT's funding request by $148,000 and 1.4 personnel-years.
Analyst's Recommendation. For these reasons, we recommend the approval of $1.2 million and 12.8 personnel-years to accommodate a projected increase in the BPT workload, but recommend denial of another $148,000 and 1.4 personnel-years proposed in the Governor's budget that has not been justified at this time.
We recommend the adoption of supplemental report language that continues a 1996-97 requirement that the Board of Prison Terms provide regular reports to the Legislature on its backlog of hearings and investigations in light of its continuing backlog problems and its failure to comply with the legislative reporting requirement for the current year.
In our Analysis of the 1995-96 Budget Bill, and again last year, we called attention to data indicating that the BPT was failing to keep up with its caseload of hearings and investigations. As we pointed out, there are specific time limits established in statute and by court decisions 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 backlog of death penalty investigations also poses a potentially serious problem. We have been advised by the BPT that given this backlog, 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.
Because of its concerns about the backlog, the Legislature last year directed the BPT to provide monthly reports on the size of these backlogs commencing July 1, 1996, and continuing each month afterward through June 1, 1997. These reports were intended to enable the Legislature to monitor the BPT's progress in resolving the backlog problems, as the BPT assured the Legislature it would. However, at the time this Analysis was prepared, the BPT has not complied with the reporting requirement.
Analyst's Recommendation. Because the BPT has advised us that the backlogs remain and, in some cases, are growing, we believe that quarterly reports should be required during 1997-98. Thus, we recommend the adoption of the following Supplemental Report language:
It is the intent of the Legislature that commencing July 1, 1997, and continuing each quarter afterward through June 30, 1998, the Board of Prison Terms shall provide the Joint Legislative Budget Committee and the fiscal committees of the Legislature with the following information: (1) the average number of days statewide and within each of the state's four parole regions it has taken the Board to dispose of a parole revocation case after receipt; (2) the number of death penalty investigations pending before the Board; and (3) the number of pardon investigations pending before the Board.
We recommend rejection of $65,000 and one personnel-year requested for continuation of the Foreign Prisoner Transfer program because of its disappointing results. We also recommend the enactment of legislation that would halt further efforts by the California Department of Corrections and the Board of Prison Terms to seek and process applications for such transfers until such time as new international transfer treaties have been negotiated and approved. We recommend that the legislation permit the transfer of inmates whose applications have already been approved by the state. (Reduce Item 5440-001-0001 by $65,000.)
The BPT has been granted authority to review, and if it deems appropriate, to approve the request of an inmate of foreign origin confined in a state prison to serve out the remainder of his or her sentence in his or her home country. In an effort to reduce state prison costs, Chapter 416, Statutes of 1994 (SB 1744, McCorquodale), directed the CDC to inform all present inmates, and thereafter all newly arrived inmates, of their opportunity to volunteer for international transfer.
Program Not Effective. As of September 30, 1995, the CDC had notified more than 39,000 inmates of their right to apply for foreign transfers. The notification process has prompted more than 869 inmates to file applications with the BPT. From 1990 to August 1996, however, only 11 inmates have actually been transferred to other countries. Various procedural problems in the program and the requirement that both the inmate and the home country agree to such transfers have contributed to the disappointing results.
For these reasons, the 1996-97 Budget Act provided that funding for the program would automatically be discontinued at the end of the current year, in effect giving the BPT one more year to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Foreign Prisoner Transfer program. The BPT has advised us that only four state inmates were actually transferred to other countries between January and August 1996. In our view, the completion of so few transfers does not justify the continuation of the program. Although all of the data is not available, we believe that the costs and staff time spent by the BPT, the CDC, and the Department of Justice over the last six years to seek out thousands of transfer applications and to process hundreds of them has exceeded any minor savings that have been achieved in state incarceration costs.
We would note that H.R. 3610, federal legislation enacted on September 30, 1996, that includes provisions on immigration reform, includes language in which the Congress advises the President to renegotiate the international treaties under which foreign prisoner transfers are authorized in order to expedite additional transfers. Until such time that these treaties are renegotiated to allow transfers to occur more easily, we believe continuation of the state's Foreign Prisoner Transfer program is not justified.
Analyst's Recommendation. For these reasons, we recommend that the request for $65,000 and one staff position for continuation of the Foreign Prisoner Transfer program be denied. We also recommend the enactment of legislation that would halt further efforts by the CDC and the BPT to seek and process applications for such transfers until such time as international treaties on foreign transfer have been renegotiated and approved.
We are advised by the BPT that 29 state inmates have received state transfer approval, but lack the further approval of the federal government and other countries necessary for a transfer to occur. For this reason, we recommend that the proposed legislation authorize the BPT to proceed with any transfers which already have state approval. Because these cases have already been processed by the BPT, we believe the further handling of these state-approved transfers would not be costly to the state.
The budget proposes total expenditures of $432 million for the Youth Authority in 1997-98. This is $3.5 million, or about 1 percent, less than current-year expenditures. General Fund expenditures are proposed to total $360 million in the budget year, a decrease of $33.4 million, or 8.5 percent, below expenditures in 1996-97. The department's proposed General Fund expenditures include $43.4 million in Proposition 98 educational funds.
The primary reason for the decrease in General Fund spending for the budget year is the introduction of fee increases to counties; the increases are reflected as reimbursements and are included in both the current-year and proposed budget.
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 Youth Authority's December 1996 ward population projections (which form the basis for the 1997-98 Governor's Budget) estimate that the number of wards and inmates housed in the Youth Authority will decrease by almost 800 (7.3 percent) by the end of 1996-97, compared to 1995-96. This decline in population is the result of the implementation of Chapter 195, Statutes of 1996 (AB 3369, Bordonaro), which transferred Department of Corrections' (CDC) inmates, housed at the Youth Authority, back to the CDC (we discuss the effect of this legislation below).
For the budget year through 2000-01, the Youth Authority projects that its population will remain relatively stable, growing at an average annual rate of less than 2 percent, reaching just over 10,100 incarcerated wards on June 30, 2001. These estimates, however, assume that the implementation of increased fees to counties for juvenile offenders sent to the Youth Authority will not have an effect on ward population (we discuss this change below).
The Youth Authority also projects little change in the