Legislative Analyst's Office

Analysis of the 2003-04 Budget Bill

Department of Corrections (5240)

The California Department of Corrections (CDC) operates 33 prisons and 38 fire and conservation camps throughout the state. The prison system also includes 16 community correctional facilities operated by private firms, cities, or counties under contract with CDC. A new maximum-security prison is under construction adjacent to the existing North Kern State Prison in Delano. This new facility, known as Delano II, is scheduled for occupancy in spring 2004. The department reports that the new prison will house 400 Level 1 (lowest security), 480 Level 2 and 3,826 Level 4 (highest security) inmates, as well as 192 youth offenders. The prison will also house 96 inmates, classified as "enhanced outpatients," who require mental health services. CDC is in the process of constructing other facilities statewide to accommodate mental health treatment programs which have been mandated by various legal actions against the department.

As of January 2003, the prison system housed 159,077 inmates, nearly a 2 percent increase over the prior year. According to CDC , this increase has occurred primarily in the lower security male inmate population (Levels 1 and 2).

The budget includes requests totaling $282 million, financed from lease-revenue bonds ($271.7 million), the General Fund ($2.8 million), and general obligation bonds ($7.6 million). Expenditures include:

Below, we raise issues with the following projects:

Closure of the Northern California Women's Facility, Stockton

We recommend the Legislature defer action on the department's capital outlay budget until the California Department of Corrections submits the institution closure report required by the supplemental language.

In our Analysis of the 2002-03 Budget Bill we noted that a decline in the female inmate population provides the state the opportunity to close one of the women's prisons. The Legislature adopted language in the Supplemental Report of the 2002 Budget Act directing the department to report to the fiscal committees of the Legislature by January 1, 2003, on potential alternative uses for the Northern California Women's Facility. This report is to include (1) consideration of optional uses of the facility, (2) impacts of the options on the inmate housing plan, and (3) the cost of alternatives (including needed staffing resources and facility modifications). At the time this Analysis was prepared, the report had not been submitted, even though the Governor's budget includes a proposal to deactivate the prison. The Legislature needs this report to evaluate any closure proposal. Given the department's failure to submit the plan, we recommend the Legislature defer action on CDC's capital outlay budget until the report is submitted and reviewed.

State Prison, San Quentin: Condemned Inmate Complex

We recommend the Legislature delete $220 million for study preliminary plans, working drawings and construction of California State Prison, San Quentin: Condemned Inmate Complex as the project is not ready to proceed to these phases. (Delete $220,000,000 from Item 5240-301-0660[4].)

Under current law, the condemned male inmate population is required to be housed at San Quentin State Prison. (The department, however, has received authority to house a limited number of inmates at California State Prison, Sacramento.) Currently there are 553 men on "death row," and the population is expected to grow between 25 to 30 inmates per year.

In response to various safety and security issues with the current facility, the budget proposes to construct a new 1,000 bed maximum-security $220 million housing complex adjacent to the existing San Quentin Prison. The proposed complex includes a new Correctional Treatment Center (CTC) to provide program space for delivery of specialized health and mental health services to inmates.

We acknowledge that the existing housing for this population is not ideal. However, we have several concerns with this proposal:

Proposal Is Not a Long-Term Solution. The proposed addition would accommodate growth in the condemned population only through about 2013. Thus, the state would be faced with the need to provide additional condemned inmate housing within about ten years. The information the department has submitted in support of this proposal does not address the issue of future expansion at the San Quentin site. The Legislature needs to know this potential in order to evaluate this proposal. If, from an engineering standpoint, the San Quentin site can accommodate future expansion, the Legislature needs to know its future cost. Absent this information, the administration's proposal is only an interim solution to the problem of housing for condemned inmates.

Cost Is High. The proposed addition at San Quentin is very costly—roughly $200,000 per cell. In contrast, the Legislature authorized a total of $311.5 million to design and construct the new 2,200 cell Delano II maximum security prison, a cost of $142,000 per bed. With the apparent need for future expansion of the condemned unit within the next 10 to 15 years, it is reasonable to assume future construction costs would be as high or higher.

Proposal Is Lacking in Detail. Many of the details of the department's proposal have not been fully defined or investigated. The fact that the proposal includes study funding indicates that the scope and cost of the project are conceptual estimates only. Without a detailed proposal, including site-specific information and better justification of the costs, the construction cost for this project is likely to be greater than the requested appropriation.

Given the concerns raised above, the project is not ready to proceed to the proposed funding phases. Accordingly, we recommend deletion of the $220 million budgeted for this project.

As noted earlier, we believe the state needs to address the current death row facilities situation. How the Legislature does so, however, depends on a key policy choice regarding the location of death row.

Decision to Keep Death Row at San Quentin. If, on the one hand, the Legislature concurs with the administration that death row should remain at San Quentin, the state can proceed with planning a new complex at that site. In that case, we would recommend that the Legislature direct the department to use a portion of the $1 million proposed in Item 5240-301-0746 for a "budget package" on this project. The budget package would provide information addressing the issues we have raised above and allow the Legislature to make a more informed decision on a fully developed proposal in 2004-05.

Willingness to Locate Death Row Elsewhere. If, on the other hand, the Legislature is willing to consider alternative sites for accommodating death row, we would recommend a different course of action. The department has not done any detailed analysis of alternative locations. We believe that such analysis is appropriate. There are other sites that could prove to be less expensive and better able to accommodate growth in this particular population. Accordingly, the Legislature could direct the department to use funds available in Item 5240-301-0746 to perform a detailed analysis of sites other than San Quentin.

Projects Recommended for Approval Contingent on Receipt of Preliminary Plans

We recommend the Legislature approve $36 million for working drawings and construction of seven projects contingent on receipt and review of project scope documents, cost estimates, and project schedules consistent with prior legislative approval.

The Governor's budget includes $36 million for working drawings and/or construction of seven projects for which the Legislature approved preliminary plans and/or working drawing funds in prior years. The projects and funding requested are detailed in Figure 1 (see next page). We recommend the Legislature approve the requested amounts contingent on receipt and review of the following information: (1) current plans and associated cost estimates, and (2) current design and construction schedules and project scopes. The department should report on these issues prior to budget hearings.


Figure 1

Department of Corrections
Projects Recommended for Approval
Contingent on Receipt of Preliminary Plans

(In Thousands)

Project Description


Budget Amount

Fund Source

Correctional Institution, Tehachapi: wastewater treatment plant



    Lease-revenue (LR) bonds

Deuel Vocational Institution, Tracy: heating/ventilation/air conditioning



    General Fund

Deuel Vocational Institution, Tracy: new well



    General Obligation bonds

California Institution for Men: cell security lighting/reception center; central facility

W, C


    General Fund

California Institution for Men-East, Chino: electrified fence

P, W


    General Fund

Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility at Rock Mountain, San Diego: Substance Abuse Program modular replacement



    LR Bonds

State Prison-Sacramento: Psychiatric Services Unit/enhanced outpatient Phase II



    LR Bonds






a           C = construction;  P = preliminary plans;  W = working drawings



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