California Prison Spending Out of Whack

California Prison Costs

Prison guards walk down a corridor in San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, Calif. on Dec. 29. (Ben Margot / Associated Press)

Where is the de-incarceration dividend? With crime up, Californians have a right to ask why the savings from prison realignment haven’t materialized and why an expected $100 million to $200 million in Proposition 47 savings has been budgeted by Gov. Jerry Brown at less than $30 million.

After all, the state’s prison population has plunged, first from realignment — the 2011 shift in responsibility for many felons from the state to counties — then from inmate releases to meet court-imposed prison population caps and deadlines, and then from Proposition 47, the 2014 ballot measure to reduce drug possession and some other felonies to misdemeanors and therefore reduce the need for prison and jail space. State prisons house about 30,000 fewer people than they did just four years ago.


Los Angeles Times Editorial Board


  1. Luis Lozano says:

    One would think that for $64K per year our prisoners would have the best food, the best healthcare, uncrowded cells, jobs and education and counseling services plus internet, cable and Wifi. Yet conditions have not improved significantly for prisoners. Instead they are worse off. The money is going to pay for more prisons, more guards and to for profit profiteers who are taking California taxpayers to the cleaners. Even the governor is in on this scam; he’s taking the savings from early release programs and putting it back in his budget for more of the same.