News Releases

CDCR Meets First Court Benchmark to Reduce Prison Overcrowding

Inmate population drops to less than 133,000

SACRAMENTO – As a result of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s historic Realignment program, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) today announced that they have cut prison overcrowding by more than 11,000 inmates over the last six months. This reduction was announced in a monthly status report filed today with the federal Three-Judge Court. The report demonstrates that CDCR is achieving compliance with the population reduction order affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court to reduce overcrowding by 34,000 inmates over two years.

“Meeting the Three-Judge Court’s six-month benchmark to reduce prison overcrowding was our top priority,” said CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate. “Reducing overcrowding enhances safety and security for staff, inmates and the public. It also increases inmates’ access to medical and mental health care, and gives us more space to provide rehabilitative programs.”

The reduction of the number of state prisoners was largely accomplished by the passage of Assembly Bill 109, 2011 Public Safety Realignment, historic legislation designed to enable California to close the revolving door of low-level offenders cycling in and out of state prisons.

Implemented October 1, 2011, Realignment shifts responsibilities and funding for non-serious, non-violent, non-sex offenders from the State to the counties, which can more effectively sanction and rehabilitate offenders. It also enables the State to safely reduce the prison population without resorting to a wholesale release of inmates from prison.

On December 28, 2011, the population of California’s 33 prisons was 132,887, or 166.8 percent of design capacity. Under the Three-Judge Court’s prisoner-reduction order, affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2011, the inmate population in California’s 33 prisons must be no more than:

• 167 percent of design capacity by December 27, 2011, (133,016 inmates)

• 155 percent by June 27, 2012,

• 147 percent by December 27, 2012, and

• 137.5 percent by June 27, 2013.

Design capacity is the number of inmates a prison can house based on one inmate per cell, single-level bunks in dormitories, and no beds in places not designed for housing. Current design capacity in CDCR’s 33 institutions is 79,650.

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Copies of monthly status reports (including the documents filed for the six-month benchmark), a graph tracking the prison population and other information are on CDCR’s Three-Judge Court webpage:

January 6, 2012
Contact: Jeffrey Callison
(916) 445-4950