Analysis of the 2008-09 Budget Bill: Criminal Justice


Combined General Fund expenditures for judicial and criminal justice programs are proposed to increase by less than 1 percent in the budget year. For the major departments in this area, the budget proposes various increases in the support budget that are largely offset with a similar level of reductions. The proposed spending increases reflect (1) inflation adjustments, (2) projected growth in the adult prison population, (3) costs for implementation of various federal court settlements and orders in the prison system, and (4) new and expanded state programs. The major reductions include a proposal for the early release from state prison of offenders who do not have a violent or serious or certain sex crimes on their record, as well as large unallocated reductions in other criminal justice agencies, including the courts and the Department of Justice. The capital outlay budget proposes to shift about $2.2 billion in lease–revenue bond financing from other prison projects to build medical prison beds and issuing $2 billion in general obligation bonds for new courthouses.

Expenditure Proposal and Trends

Budget Year. The budget proposes General Fund expenditures of about $13.1 billion for judicial and criminal justice programs, which is about 13 percent of all General Fund spending. This amount reflects the budget–balancing reductions proposed for these programs by the Governor. This amount—which includes support for operations, capital outlay, and debt service for related facilities—represents an increase of about $86 million, or less than 1 percent, above the proposed revised level of current–year spending for these programs. As regards specific departments, the proposed General Fund budgets for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the Judicial Branch would decline slightly compared to the prior year under the Governor’s budget proposal, while General Fund spending for the Department of Justice (DOJ) would drop 8.6 percent.

Historical Trend. The spending changes proposed by the administration for 2008–09 differ significantly from the historical trend of significant budgetary increases for criminal justice agencies. Figure 1 shows expenditures for judicial and criminal justice agencies since 2001–02. (These expenditures have been reduced to reflect federal funds the state has or is expected to receive to offset the costs of incarceration of undocumented felons.) The figure shows that General Fund expenditures for judicial and criminal justice agencies are projected to increase by almost $5.3 billion, or 67 percent, between 2001–02 and 2008–09, an average annual increase of 7.6 percent. Special funds expenditures for these programs also grew significantly in this period. As a result, combined General Fund and special fund expenditures are estimated to increase almost $5.9 billion, or 65 percent, from 2001–02 through 2008–09. State expenditures increased during this period mostly due to (1) the state’s assumption of primary responsibility for funding trial court operations, (2) increased labor costs to operate the state corrections system, and (3) court–ordered expansions and improvements of inmate and ward programs, particularly for inmate health care services.

Judicial and Criminal Justice Expenditures Current and Constant Dollars

Adjusting for Inflation. Figure 1 also displays the spending for these programs adjusted for inflation (constant dollars). On this basis, General Fund expenditures are estimated to increase by 23 percent from 2001–02 through 2008–09—the equivalent of a $1.8 billion increase in purchasing power. Combined General Fund and special funds expenditures are estimated to increase by 22 percent during this same period when adjusted for inflation.

Spending by Major Program

Figure 2 shows expenditures from all sources for the operation of major judicial and criminal justice programs in 2006–07, 2007–08, and as proposed for 2008–09. (Capital outlay and debt–related expenditures from general obligation bonds are not included in Figure 2.) As the figure shows, CDCR accounts for the largest share of total spending in the criminal justice area, followed by the Judicial Branch, DOJ, and certain criminal justice programs budgeted as local assistance.


Figure 2

Judicial and Criminal Justice Budget Summary

2006–07 Through 2008–09
(Dollars in Millions)





Change From



Department of Corrections and






General Fundb






Special funds






Reimbursements and federal funds












Federal Offset for
Undocumented Felons





Judicial Branchc






General Fund






Special funds and reimbursements






County contribution










Department of Justice






General Fund






Special funds and reimbursements






Federal funds










Criminal Justice Local Assistanced







      Totals may not add due to rounding.

a    Includes proposed budget-balancing reductions.

b    Includes Proposition 98 and excludes capital outlay.

c    Excludes Commission on Judicial Performance and Judges' Retirement System contributions.

d    Includes all funding in budget Item 9210 except special supplemental subventions.


Spending is proposed to decrease by less than 1 percent in CDCR and the Judicial Branch (the Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal, Judicial Council, trial courts, and the Habeus Corpus Resource Center) and decrease more significantly in the other major programs. Under the budget proposal, DOJ would receive the largest dollar decrease in General Fund support. The department would also experience the largest dollar decrease from all sources relative to its estimated current–year spending. However, the largest percentage decrease (10 percent) from the General Fund is proposed for criminal justice local assistance programs.

Major Budget Changes

Figures 3 and 4 present the major budget changes for judicial and criminal justice programs. These and other changes are described below. The amounts shown below reflect the General Fund decreases proposed for 2008–09 relative to the 2007–08 Budget Act.


Figure 3

Criminal Justice
Proposed Major Changes for 2008–09
General Fund





Department of Corrections
and Rehabilitation


$9.8 billion





$13 million







+     $248 million for the full-year cost of programs begun in 2007–08



+     $153 million in administrative spending, primarily information technology projects



+     $147 million related mainly to compliance with federal court orders and settlements, including activities of the court-appointed Receiver to improve inmate medical care



+     $54 million for projected changes in inmate, ward, and parole populations, including funding for out-of-state and female rehabilitation beds



+     $35 million to expand prison and rehabilitation programs, including drug and mental health treatment and assessments of offenders



+     $20 million to expedite the hiring and training of additional correctional officers






     $256 million from the release, up to 20 months early, from prison of offenders without violent or serious or certain sex crimes on their record



     $125 million from eliminating the reserve for the court-appointed Receiver for improvement of medical services for inmates



     $98 million from no longer actively supervising certain offenders on parole



     $67 million to reflect discontinuation of one-time spending occurring in 2007–08



     $62 million from eliminating a 2007–08 inflation adjustment for operating expenses



     $25 million from reducing certain county grant programs







Figure 4

Judicial Branch and Department of Justice
Proposed Major Changes for 2008-09
General Fund





Judicial Branch


$2.2 billion





$20 million







+     $126 million for inflation and growth adjustments for trial courts



+     $47 million full-year cost of 50 new judgeships created in 2007–08 and start-up funding for 50 additional judgeships proposed for 2008–09



+     $17 million to implement 2006 legislation to better regulate conservatorships






     $246 million for an unallocated reduction






Department of Justice


$381 million





$36 million







     $42 million for an unallocated reduction





Budget–Balancing Reductions in Judicial and Criminal Justice Agencies. While the budget provides for various increases in spending (discussed below) to judicial and criminal justice agency budgets, these additional funds are largely offset by proposals for spending reductions to address the state’s projected budget shortfall. The biggest reduction in dollar terms ($256 million) in the budget year would be in CDCR from a proposal for the release, up to 20 months early, from state prison of offenders who do not have a violent or serious or certain sex crimes on their records. An additional $98 million in savings would be realized by not actively supervising these same types of offenders on state parole. In addition, a $25 million reduction would be made in local grant programs in the CDCR budget. The budget plan calls for a $246 million unallocated reduction in the Judicial Branch budget and a $42 million unallocated reduction in DOJ. Smaller reductions in dollar terms would also be made in the budgets of the Commission on Judicial Performance, the Office of the Inspector General, the Office of the State Public Defender, the California Law Revision Commission, the Commission on Uniform State Laws, other criminal justice local assistance programs, and reimbursement to counties for part of the costs of costly homicide trials.

CDCR Population, Inflation, and Technical Budget Adjustments. The budget takes into account the projected increases in adult inmate and parole populations that it expects to occur under current laws and policies. (In addition, the budget plan separately proposes measures that would reduce the adult inmate and parole populations.) The spending plan provides funding for an additional 3,000 out–of–state beds for inmates and the start of activation of about 2,000 more community rehabilitation beds for female prison inmates. The spending plan also reflects the continued decline in the number of juvenile wards in state institutions and on parole due largely to recently enacted policy changes that will shift nonviolent juvenile offenders to counties, including the closure of two juvenile facilities. The net fiscal effect of all of these changes is a proposed increase in state spending of $54 million. The budget adjusts for the full–year cost of new or expanded programs that began operation in the current year ($248 million), increases operating expenses and equipment for inflation ($65 million), and reduces spending to reflect the discontinuation in 2008–09 of one–time spending that will occur in 2007–08 (–$67 million). It also reflects $62 million in savings from a 2007–08 Budget Act provision that eliminated an inflation adjustment for operations expenses. Additional spending for proposed increases in employee compensation is contained in a separate non–CDCR budget item.

Corrections Court Orders and Settlements. The budget identifies $142 million in new spending proposals related to federal court orders and settlements affecting CDCR operations. These include Plata, relating to inmate medical care (a federal court–appointed Receiver manages this care); Perez, relating to inmate dental care; Farrell and L.H., relating to juveniles within youth correctional facilities and on parole; Armstrong, relating to inmates with disabilities; Rutherford and Lugo, relating to parole hearings for inmates sentenced to life with the possibility of parole; Valdivia, relating to revocation of offenders released on parole; and other cases. The largest single increase in new spending ($74 million) relates to the Plata case, but the administration also proposes not to continue into 2008–09 the $125 million unallocated reserve provided to the Receiver in 2007–08. Most of these budget proposals relate directly to the CDCR budget.

New Correctional Programs. The budget proposes $35 million in spending by CDCR to implement the requirements of Chapter 7, Statutes of 2007 (AB 900, Solorio), to expand rehabilitation programs for inmates and parolees. Most of the money would come from funds appropriated by the new law last year. The spending plan increases funding for substance abuse for inmates and mental health services for parolees, expands risk and needs assessments of offenders, and provides information technology systems and support staff to make various improvements in rehabilitation programs. Additional funding is provided in the budget to expand community programs for parolees.

Judicial Branch Spending. The budget proposes several augmentations for the Judicial Branch. These consist of inflation and growth adjustments for trial courts based on the year–to–year change in the State Appropriations Limit ($126 million), as well as adjustments for the full–year cost of new or expanded programs that began operation in the current year ($72 million). Part of this funding, as well as some additional new funding, would in combination provide a total of $47 million for the full–year cost of 50 new judgeships created in 2007–08 and start–up funding for 50 additional judgeships that would be created through new state legislation. The spending plan would also implement 2006 legislation to better protect individuals who are placed into conservatorships because they are not competent to manage their own affairs ($17 million).

Capital Outlay Proposals for Corrections and Courts. The administration proposes to shift $2.2 billion in lease–revenue bond financing to the Receiver to provide more resources for construction of prison medical facilities. These monies would be redirected from a prison construction package (also enacted through Chapter 7) originally allocated to build new inmate beds on the grounds of existing prisons as well as reentry facilities designed to help offenders transition from prison back to the community. While specific statutory language for this change has not been provided to the Legislature, we assume this new funding for medical facilities could be used by the Receiver for renovation of clinical and office space for medical operations on the grounds of existing state prisons, as well as coordinating the building of up to 10,000 new medical and mental health beds. The spending plan also proposes to spend $331 million (including prior unused appropriations) to build a new Death Row complex at San Quentin. Finally, the budget plan includes $62 million to acquire sites for four new courthouses in Southeast Los Angeles County and Butte, Tehama, and Yolo Counties. The plan assumes that these projects would be funded from a $2 billion general obligation bond issue that would go on the statewide ballot later this year.

Return to Judicial and Criminal Justice Table of Contents, 2008-09 Budget Analysis
Return to Full Table of Contents, 2008-09 Budget Analysis