Legislative Analyst's Office

Analysis of the 2001-02 Budget Bill


Youth and Adult Correctional Agency (0550)

The Youth and Adult Correctional Agency (YACA) is responsible for overseeing and coordinating the activities, budgets, and policy directions of the following departments:

The Governor's budget proposes $3.4 million for support of the agency, which is an increase of $62,000, or 2 percent, over projected current-year expenditures. The proposed current- and budget-year increases are primarily the result of a proposal to create a Substance Abuse Coordinator position.

Substance Abuse Coordinator Position Not Justified

We recommend the Legislature deny the Youth and Adult Correctional Agency's request for $127,000 to create an agency-level Substance Abuse Coordinator position. The proposal duplicates existing resources currently available to coordinate substance abuse programs, and the need for additional agency-level coordination has not been justified. (Reduce Item 0550-001-0001 by $127,000.)

The budget proposes $127,000 to establish an agency-level Substance Abuse Coordinator position. This position would be responsible for providing statewide coordination in the substance abuse programming efforts of correctional agencies. Specifically, the coordinator would monitor utilization, adequacy, and effectiveness of drug abuse programs and services for youth and adult offenders and parolees.

Background. Two departments within YACA—the Department of Corrections (CDC) and the CYA—operate substance abuse treatment programs, with total annual expenditures of $292 million. The CDC, which is responsible for $280 million, or 95 percent, of correctional substance abuse program expenditures, operates 15 in-prison programs, in addition to parolee service networks, regional substance abuse coordination agencies, and a drug reduction strategy. Together these programs and services assist about 20,000 adult inmates and parolees. The CYA, which spends about $12 million annually on substance abuse programs, operates about 1,300 substance abuse treatment beds in nine facilities and a limited aftercare program for parolees.

Additional Coordination of Treatment Programs Is Unjustified. The budget indicates that the proposed position would focus on implementing Proposition 36, the drug diversion initiative approved by the voters, and coordinating substance abuse programs between CDC and CYA. This additional level of coordination is not needed for the following reasons.

Proposal Duplicates Existing Resources. Proposition 36 applies only to adults and its most significant impact will be to reduce the CDC inmate population and possibly increase the Board of Prison Terms (BPT) parole revocation hearing workload. (For a discussion of Proposition 36, see the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs budget in the "Health and Social Services" chapter of this Analysis). Although implementation of Proposition 36 may make it necessary to modify existing relationships between BPT and CDC, existing staff within these two departments are sufficient to accomplish this activity.

In addition, YACA currently has CYA and CDC Liaison positions which are responsible for monitoring and coordinating all department activities at the agency-level. Given these existing positions, it is unclear why an additional position is needed to coordinate individual program areas within the two departments.

At the department level, oversight, evaluation, and monitoring of correctional substance abuse programs is already occurring in the Office of Substance Abuse Programs (OSAP) at CDC and in the Research Division at CYA. Although these activities could be enhanced, limitations in evaluations and monitoring tend to reflect a lack of resources at the department level, rather than a lack of coordination at the agency level.

Finally, the budget indicates that the proposed coordinator would establish a communication network with local providers to enhance the continuum of care between correctional institutions and the community. The OSAP, however, has already formed such a network of providers for CDC parolees. Extending this network benefit to the CYA would require some coordination between the two departments but would not require the addition of an agency-level coordinator.

Limited Opportunities Exist for a Continuum of Care. The proposal indicates that the coordinator would be responsible for structuring a continuum of services to encompass both CDC and CYA. Research indicates, however, that youth and adult populations have different substance abuse problems and need different treatment programs. In addition, the number of offenders who transition directly from the CYA into CDC is relatively small. These factors significantly reduce the opportunities for the development of a continuum of services. Existing departmental staff should have the capability to explore those opportunities that do exist. As an alternative to additional agency coordination, each department should focus on providing effective substance abuse treatment programs for its own unique population. If the CYA offers effective substance abuse treatment programs to its targeted population of youths, they will be less likely to need substance abuse services from CDC in the future.

Analyst's Recommendation. We recommend denying the request for $127,000 to establish a Substance Abuse Coordinator position to coordinate substance abuse treatment activities between correctional departments. The position duplicates not only existing agency coordinator positions but departmental evaluation, monitoring, and coordinating resources as well which are available to the agency. These existing agency and departmental positions should be sufficient to provide coordinating services given the level of interface needed to implement Proposition 36 and the inherent differences in the treatment needs of CDC and CYA populations. If the Legislature wishes to improve correctional substance abuse treatment services, we recommend redirecting the proposed funds to direct services for youth and adult offenders and parolees.

Return to Criminal Justice Table of Contents, 2001-02 Budget Analysis