Out-of-State Prisoners Are Coming Home to Crowded Prisons

Friday, July 13, 2012
(photo: California Department of Corrections)

After embarking on a plan to meet court-ordered inmate reductions by shifting prisoners from state prisons to local jails, the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has announced that it will bring home thousands of prisoners it outsourced to other states.

The official state “blueprint” to cut billions in spending and meet federal mandates states: “Out-of-state inmates (currently more than 9,500) will return to California, bringing jobs back and saving $318 million a year while managing offenders closer to home.”

California is in the process of reducing its prison population by 25,000, to 110,000, to comply with decisions approved by the U.S. Supreme Court. But that will only reduce the inmate population to 137% of prison capacity, leaving the prisons acceptably overcrowded. County jails across the state are grappling with methods for dealing with the influx of new, non-violent and non-sex offender felons from the big house.

The state is planning to bring back 600 prisoners immediately from Arizona facilities, building up to a return of 4,000 prisoners in 2014. But the plan is contingent on the courts relaxing its standard for overcrowding to 145% of design capability.

If all goes as planned, Corrections officials say, the state will save money by not having to pay private companies millions of dollars to relocate inmates as it has done since 2006.  

But the state Legislative Analyst’s Office questions the math. While finding the blueprint  “a step in the right direction,” it suggests that additional costs for medical care and housing have not been totally factored in. The office also suggested other scenarios for saving money that would rely, instead, on canceling prison construction projects that could net the state $155 million.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Calif. to Begin Bringing Back Inmates in Out-of-State Prisons (by Michael Montgomery, The Bay Citizen)

State Should Consider Less Costly Alternatives to CDCR Blueprint (Legislative Analyst’s Office)

The Future of California Corrections (pdf)

Leave a comment