Analysts have looked at the State's prison system before -- The
Blue Ribbon Commission on Inmate Population Management in
1990 and the Little Hoover Commission in 1994. The Legislative
Analyst's Office routinely suggests potential improvements. But
indecision has created an overcrowding crisis that demands action and
recent developments provide the opportunities for creative compromise.
Among those developments:
- In the last five years the Three Strikes Law and other sentence
enhancements have been put on the books -- sending more felons
to prison and keeping them there longer.
- In the last decade a private correctional industry has emerged,
providing the State with more options for housing and treating
- In the past five years assessment and treatment techniques have
been refined and documented to significantly reduce criminal
- Research and renewed interest in community-based corrections
has laid the groundwork for expanding and refining intermediate
sanctions, some involving local or part-time incarceration, as an
alternative to state prison.
Today, the benchmark for all of the State's correctional efforts should
be recidivism. And the goal should be to reduce recidivism in order to
reduce prison costs and crime in the streets.
After extensive review, the Commission believes that California's
correctional policy should be reformed in three fundamental ways: First,
an integrated system involving both local and state correctional agencies
needs to be forged. Second, the use of the existing prison infrastructure
needs to be maximized by aggressively implementing programs proven
to reduce recidivism. And third, the additional prisons should be added
through a competitive process that compensate providers based on the
most important outcomes -- safe operation and reduced crime among
These reforms would collectively realign the State's correctional system
-- ensuring that there was always room in prison for the worst of the
worst, while using every correctional tool available to make sure that the
vast majority of inmates who are released back to the community will
not commit new crimes and end up back in prison.
Next Section   Previous Section   Table of Contents