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Gov. Schwarzenegger Signs Historic Bipartisan Agreement, Takes Important Step Toward Solving California’s Prison Overcrowding Crisis

Joined by a bipartisan group of legislators, law enforcement officials and public safety experts, Governor Schwarzenegger today signed a historic measure to help reform California’s overburdened correctional system. Assembly Bill 900 will provide critical relief to prison overcrowding and increase public safety by dramatically changing California’s approach to rehabilitating prisoners. The Governor will also establish strike teams to ensure this legislation is implemented quickly and effectively.

“This is a major step forward, but now the real work begins. With this bill, we will add 53,000 beds – the most built in a generation. But we will also put management reforms in place so that these beds are built quickly and the rehabilitation programs tied to each and every new bed are strong,” said Governor Schwarzenegger.

“I would like to congratulate the Legislature, especially its leaders, Senate President Pro Tem Perata, Speaker Núñez, Senator Ackerman and Assemblyman Villines, who put aside their political differences and never forgot the public we all serve. I would also like to thank all of the sheriffs, police chiefs, district attorneys, probation chiefs, county officials and everyone else who worked so hard to help us get here. They all share my commitment to public safety and know that this legislation will make our streets safer.”

Assembly Bill 900, also known as the Public Safety and Offender Rehabilitation Services Act of 2007, will provide $7.7 billion to add 53,000 prison and jail beds in two phases and fundamentally shift how the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) approaches rehabilitation for California’s prisoners. The legislation will also help move more than 16,000 prisoners out of “bad beds” located in prison libraries, gymnasiums and day rooms, freeing up these spaces for rehabilitation programs.

“No longer will we build giant warehouses in remote locations that produce criminals who are more dangerous the day they are released than on the day they came in. We are finally facing up to the fact that most California inmates are someday eligible for parole and that we must do everything we can to make sure those who are released don’t commit new crimes,” said Governor Schwarzenegger.

Assembly Bill 900 funds 16,000 beds in Secure Re-Entry Facilities, small and secure centers that provide offenders with job training, mental health and substance abuse counseling, housing placement, and other programs in the critical few months just prior to their release.

To speed up construction and overhaul rehabilitation programs, the Governor will direct his Administration to establish strike teams within CDCR’s management.

“And we will act quickly to use the other remedies in this legislation, such as the statutory authority to move inmates out of state whether they volunteer or not as another way to reduce overcrowding. My administration also intends to make smarter and more effective use of existing parole policies, beef up probation services and reform juvenile justice,” continued the Governor.

Governor Schwarzenegger is committed to continue aggressively pursuing many aspects of his prison reforms he introduced in January, including funding for probation services; moving non-serious/non-violent juvenile offenders to local facilities; and transferring 4,500 low-risk female offenders into local facilities.

Details of the Public Safety and Offender Rehabilitation Services Act of 2007 include:

Balancing More Beds With Better Rehabilitation Total Beds: 53,000. This $7.7 ($7.4 bonds/$350 General Fund) billion agreement will provide 53,000 prison and jail beds in two phases. Phase I funding will permit immediate construction. Phase II funding is contingent on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation meeting rehabilitation, management and construction benchmarks during Phase I.

  • Phase I: $3.6 billion lease revenue bond.
  • Phase II: $2.5 billion lease revenue bond. Must be enacted by 2014.
  • Local matches: 25% (approximately $300 million) of $1.2 billion in lease revenue bonds for local jails.
  • Additional funding: $350 million General Fund ($300 million for infrastructure, $50 million for rehabilitation).

Prison and Community Re-Entry Beds for State Prisoners: 40,000. The agreement provides $6.1 billion to increase the number of beds in state prisons. Rehabilitation services—like substance abuse treatment, mental health services and job training—will accompany all new bed construction.

Rehabilitation and Secure Re-Entry Beds: 16,000. The agreement prioritizes rehabilitation and reducing recidivism. It directs CDCR to set aside 4,000 beds for drug treatment and create 16,000 new beds in secure re-entry facilities.

  • Phase I Construction: 6,000 secure re-entry beds.
  • Phase II Construction: 10,000 secure re-entry beds

“Infill” Beds: 16,000. The agreement adds 16,000 beds at existing prisons to reduce the number of prisoners in bad beds. Currently state prisons currently house approximately 172,000 prisoners in facilities designed for about half that number.

  • Phase I Construction: 12,000 infill beds
  • Phase II Construction: 4,000 infill beds

Medical Beds: 8,000. The agreement adds 8,000 medical, dental and mental health facility beds as mandated by the federal Receiver The Receiver will determine where these beds will be added, and what services (mental health, long-term care, other) they will provide.

  • Phase I Construction: 6,000 medical beds
  • Phase II Construction: 2,000 medical beds

Local Jail Beds: 13,000. The agreement provides $1.2 billion to increase the number of beds in local county jails by approximately 13,000 to remediate overcrowding faced by counties across the state. Counties are required to match 25% of the $1.2 billion (approximately $300 million), unless their population is less than 200,000—in these counties, the CSA can reduce or eliminate the match. Counties that assist the state in locating re-entry facilities and helping parolees get mental health services will receive funding preference. In 2005 alone, 233,388 individuals avoided incarceration or were released early from jail sentences due solely to a lack of jail space.

Out of State Prison Transfers: The agreement gives the Legislature clear statutory authority to voluntarily and involuntarily transfer prisoners out-of-state for the next four years. In October 2006 Governor Schwarzenegger authorized CDCR to transfer prisoners out-of-state by Executive Order.

Phase I Benchmarks: CDCR has committed to meeting specific benchmarks during Phase I to trigger Phase II funding. They are:

  • Successfully completing construction of ½ of Phase I beds (12,000 new beds).
  • 75% average participation in drug treatment programs over six months.
  • Establishing the California Rehabilitation Oversight Board (C-ROB) in the Office of Inspector General.
  • Proper assessment and placement of offenders in rehabilitation programs when they enter the system, and then again when they’re a year away from parole.
  • Increasing offender participation in classes and education programs.
  • C-ROB’s completion of a prison-to-employment plan.
  • Providing mental health day treatment for parolees.
  • Completion of various studies by CDCR and C-ROB assessing the effectiveness of inmate programming.

Audio of Governor Signing Agreement

View CDCR’s Prison Reform and Rehabilitation Page for More Resources