Tag: Diana Zuñiga
California draft budget backslides into aggressive prison construction, punting durable population...
The May Revision to Governor Brown’s 2015-16 budget delays plans to close the notorious decaying prison in Norco, a move supported by Sen. Hancock and CURB members earlier this week. The corrections budget continues to account for a total of $12.676 billion with plans for “aggressive” prison construction at Donovan and Mule Creek over the next year.
The month of March marked the beginning of state budget hearings that will set next year’s fiscal priorities for the welfare of Californians. The first version of the state budget shows no clear plan to provide adequate relief for people living in poverty, fails to make restorative investments to the social safety net, and continues to increase corrections spending.
With President Obama’s recent executive action on immigration and the mass protests throughout the country against the grand jury acquittals of police officers Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo for the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, it is more important than ever for Black and Latino communities to confront racism and the oppressive structures that deny our fundamental humanity and divide us into those who are worthy of justice and those who are not.
On Nov. 4, California voters passed criminal justice reform measure Proposition 47. Proposition 47 changes the lowest level drug possession and petty theft crimes from felonies to simple misdemeanors for some people. Although re-sentencing is not guaranteed, up to 10,000 people in California’s prisons and jails will be eligible for resentencing, and newly sentenced individuals who meet the requirements will be under county jurisdiction.
In mid-June, Gov. Brown signed the Budget Act of 2015, which shows no vision for the future of most Californians. In total, this budget underestimated the amount of resources available, overestimated the cost of vital programs, and chose spending on debt service, rainy day funds and prisons instead of the people of California and the vital services they need.
Anti-prison expansion activists across California have had a busy spring pushing back against controversial expansion plans. Members of Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) acted swiftly last month to defeat two legislative bills which would have rammed forward over $4 billion in prison and jail construction money [AB 2356 (Gorell) and SB 1377 (Nielson)].
This week members of Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), advocates and activists representing diverse communities are attending the Senate Public Safety and Assembly Budget Committee hearings in Sacramento to speak out against billions in funding for new prison and jail expansion. The Assembly Budget Committee hearing will begin on Wednesday, April 23, at 1:30 p.m. in Room 437 of the Capitol in Sacramento.
On Feb. 10, the federal court granted California and Gov. Jerry Brown a two-year extension to reduce the deadly overcrowding in our state’s prisons. We urge the Legislature to act immediately to implement parole and sentencing reforms, cancel all prison expansion plans, invest in community-run anti-poverty and recidivism programs, and build lasting and public accountability and oversight.
Gov. Brown’s 2014-15 budget will contract 5,633 new prison beds in state while funding the expansion of four new prisons and allocating $500 million for more jail construction. Advocates celebrate a series of parole reform victories outlined in the proposed budget while pointing out that lifting some of their extreme limitations could easily prevent Gov. Brown’s costly prison expansion plans.
On Wednesday, faith, health and human services, housing, education and criminal justice reform advocates will have a press conference and rally at the State Building, 300 South Spring St., calling on the Legislature to immediately reduce the prison population and invest tax dollars in programs that create healthy and safe communities.
Earlier today, Gov. Brown was ordered by the federal three-judge panel to immediately reduce the prison population to 137.5 percent of design capacity – to a total population of no more than 110,000. After the Brown administration filed an incomplete plan to the court in May and an appeal, the court is forcing the state to comply with the order by December 2013.
Tomorrow the Senate Rules Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for acting California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary Jeffery Beard. Advocates, experts and family members of prisoners plan to attend the hearing and raise their concerns about Beard’s track record on prison expansion and overcrowding in Pennsylvania.
Last week, Gov. Brown released his May Budget Revise, which advocates who have been pushing for comprehensive prison population reduction reforms were anxious to see. We hoped that the minor reforms to good-time credits, medical parole and elder parole from the governor’s court-ordered population reduction plan would find their way into the revise.
Yesterday’s ultimatum by the three-judge panel puts Gov. Brown and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation on notice to present a plan for further reductions in the state’s unconstitutionally crowded prisons within the next three weeks. Advocates who have criticized the governor’s criminal justice realignment plan as inadequate were quick to praise the court decision.
Beginning with a rally held on the capitol steps, it was an emotional day for many, especially for family members of those suffering in the SHUs and prison survivors. The voices of those in the SHU were powerfully present, both in stories told by family members as well as statements they had sent for the occasion. The hearing provided an opportunity for legislators to hear representatives of CDCR present their new policies and weigh the truth of their claims. At the end there was a scant 20 minutes for public input.
The state of California filed another response to the federal court order to reduce dangerous overcrowding in California’s prisons, urging the court to end the 137.5 percent population cap. Gov. Brown’s 2013-14 budget echoes comments earlier this week that the administration has deserted plans to shrink California’s over-sized prison population, ignoring clear messages from voters.