Wednesday, July 15, 2009

California Prison Reform Opportunity

Some readers of this blog may have followed my posts on private prison abuse and the prison-industrial complex. The posts are these: Money and Filthy Hands, Our Least Resilient Neighborhoods, Tarnish On The Golden State, Homeboy Culture And The Solari Index, and The Replacement of Petroleum Slaves. For those unfamiliar with this subject, these posts drew on a number of sources who documented how the prison lobby and the private prison “industry” have pushed for harsh sentencing of nonviolent offenders in order to boost the incomes of prison guards and private prison corporations. This lobbying, and “targeted enforcement” by police, have resulted in a disproportionate number of minorities who are locked up in prison.

There is an upcoming opportunity to remedy this situation. On 5 August 2009, the California Rehabilitation Oversight Board will hold a hearing on expanding the Honor Program now operating at California State Prison, Los Angeles County (CSP-LAC). The Honor Program has yielded impressive results in reducing prisoner violence and boosting prisoner rehabilitation, as well as saving taxpayers at least several hundred thousand dollars. A program that heals offenders and sets them straight is a boon to society, even if it means a loss of revenue for private prison corporations and prison guard pensions. Such interests will of course oppose programs that help people escape the prison system. Prison industry lobbyists seem to have a friend in Governor Schwarzenegger, who vetoed a 2007 bill that would have mandated expansion of the Honor Program, and whose proposed 2009 budget would increase California's use of private prisons (Sources:; and

However, not all Californians (or ex-Californians like me) are so evil that they want to profit from breaking the lives of others. Therefore, supporters of the Honor Program will be out in force at the meeting on the 5th of August. Their goal is to expand the Honor Program to all California prisons.

I was invited to go, but I don't know if I'll be able to make it. If any readers are available on that date, feel free to attend and help make a positive difference. Here is a link to the Honor Program website: I have also included the invitation e-mail below:

Dear Honor Program Supporter:

We are closer than ever to achieving official support of the Honor Program by the CDCR. In recent months, we have been very successful in gaining the attention of CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate and Inspector General David Shaw, who have indicated their interest in the program. There are very positive signs that the CDCR plans to take action in the near future to fully support and implement the program.

However, we need your help to ensure this actually happens! Especially at this time of fiscal crisis, when so much attention is being given to California's state budget (to the exclusion of other important matters), we must remind Secretary Cate of the importance of the Honor Program.

Please plan to attend the upcoming C-ROB (California Rehabilitation Oversight Board) meeting in Sacramento on Wednesday, August 5, 2009. Secretary Cate attends these meetings, which are a perfect opportunity to advocate directly with the decision maker.

We want to see as many Honor Program supporters as possible attend the August 5 meeting to provide public testimony and encourage Secretary Cate to follow through on his plans to support the program. (If you are not comfortable with public speaking, your physical presence alone will send a message to Secretary Cate of the degree of public support for the program.) Please reply to this e-mail if you would like to attend the meeting and have questions or need more information.

For more information on the C-ROB meeting, go to

Thank you very much for your support.




cut cdc costs said...

It is not complicated. Prison system problems and solutions are obvious if you simply view prisons as a part of the state/local corrections system.

There are three actual correctional system problems –the jail bed shortage, the broken technical parole violation system, and the influence of the correctional employees union, the CCPOA. The long term jail bed shortage caused the shift of about half of the county jail bed population (parole violators and wobblers) to prison, resulting in overcrowding.
Only 23% of California parolees discharge compared to 60% for the other states and 50% of the county felon probationers. The high violation rate can be eliminated by passage of a law allowing the state to contract with counties for parole supervision and the courts dealing with violations. Under the courts, violation rates would return to standard levels, resulting in annual savings of $750 million. Such legislation has always been defeated in the Legislature due to union opposition.
In the short term, counties and the state should increase correctional contract beds to eliminate overcrowding. Each prison contract bed saves $30,000 annually due to lower operating costs. There would probably also be savings with county contract beds.

TH in SoC said...

In addition to the problems you mentioned, there is a larger problem: a racist police and correctional system that preys upon certain individuals and communities for profit. That is the main point of all my posts on the prison-industrial complex. Take the malice and the profit motive out of the system and suddenly you have a system that's much easier to fix.