Gov. Jerry Brown last month proposed a solution to the overcrowding of our prisons by offering alternative cells for inmates without releasing them early.
However, his proposal would drain $315 million from the states’ $1.1 billion reserve in the next year alone.
That number is expected to increase to $415 million in the following two years according to the Los Angeles Times.
Brown’s solution alone is a cause for concern because of the amount of money he is willing to invest on the inmates.
It is understandable that the prisons across the state are filled to the brim, but adding more cells will not make a long-term impact.
It is a short-term solution for a long-term problem.
At the rate these prisons are being filled, the new temporary jail cells will be filled as quickly as their older counterparts.
The cost of housing the inmates will steadily increase as more cells will need to be built and the state will see a huge blow to its reserve.
California is one of the states with the largest debt in the country.
According to CBS news, California’s debt is approximately $848 billion and could increase past $1.1 trillion.
With many other institutions lacking funds, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on convicted criminals is an irresponsible move for Brown.
According to the LA Times, Senate leader Darrell Steinberg has his own proposition that focuses on spending more money on mental health and drug treatment program in an attempt to reduce the number of repeat offenders who return to prison.
The ultimate goal for Steinberg’s plan is for lowering the inmate population in the long run.
His proposal resembles a similar program implemented in 2009 that reduced the population by more than 9,500 inmates in two years.
The problem has been exposed to the limelight after various Los Angeles County jails released criminals serving sentences for violent and sexual crimes.
These inmates serve as little as 40 percent of their time according to the Sheriff’s Department records obtained by the LA Times under the California Public Records Act.
Under the current policy, male inmates serving sentences less than 90 days and female inmates sentenced less than 240 days are released immediately.
The thought of convicted criminals being released early is haunting for neighboring communities where the criminals reside.
By cutting inmates’ sentences short, nothing will stop criminals from repeating the same offense if they know they won’t have to carry out the complete sentence.
In the early 2000s, LA County jails were forced to release inmates early due to budget cuts, similar to today’s issue.
The Times reported that 16,000 of the inmates released early were arrested for new offenses during the time period of their sentences.
Sixteen of those inmates were charged with murder.
While Brown’s plan is a step in the right direction compared to reducing criminals’ sentences, it can lead to disastrous results for the future of the state.
Adding more housing for inmates will not reduce the amount of repeat offenders being admitted to jail and it will only be a matter of time until the temporary jails will overflow as well.
Brown is up for re-election in the next year and can face opposition from critics of his most recent plans.
He has faced a lot of criticism after the announcement of his plan by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress who say that he is quick to spend money for a quick fix, instead of focusing on a solution for the long-term.
“Governor Brown has a well-earned reputation as a good steward of the public purse; throwing this expensive Band-Aid on a hemorrhage threatens to undermine our hard work,” Steinberg said.