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News items related to adult corrections

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A Closer Look at the Aging Prison Population

The number of aging state and federal inmates is rising.  Between 1981 and 2010, the number of inmates age 55 and older increased from 8,853 to 124,900.

For real prison reform, look beyond the Non-Non-Nons
Last week, while defiantly declaring the end of California's prison crisis, Gov. Jerry Brown insisted further reductions in prison overcrowding "cannot be achieved without the early release of inmates serving time for serious or violent felonies," a move that would "jeopardize public safety." In other words, now that Realignment is sending low-level offenders to local custody instead of state prison, those who remain in prison need to stay there to protect the public. This unfounded…
Federal health care reform and incarcerated populations
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) , the health reform law passed by the Obama administration and Congress in 2010, will have vast implications for the provision of health services to incarcerated individuals, including expanded access to mental health and substance abuse treatment.  An underappreciated impact of California's AB 109 adult corrections realignment is that county jails are now the primary providers of medical care for long-term realigned inmates.   The Community…
California's adult corrections realignment: Just a change of address?
Several weeks ago, I represented CJCJ at the Second Annual Conference on Public Safety Realignment .  The conference was sponsored by the Joint Training Partnership of the California State Association of Counties (CSAC), California State Sheriffs' Association (CSSA) and Chief Probation Officers of California (CPOC). Over 600 law enforcement stakeholders were in attendance, representing Community Corrections Partnerships from the majority of the counties across California.   Staff from the…
Increased higher education spending enhances public safety and deters crime
California's budget demonstrates a commitment to correctional spending despite continued funding cuts to other important social services. According to California Common Sense , since 1980 "...the number of incarcerated felons in state prisons has increased more than eightfold despite relatively stable crime rates." Incarcerations and related costs have been driven up in part by the unnecessary incarceration of low-risk, non-violent offenders due to the Three Strikes law and similar…
How "realignment" will change criminal justice in California
How "realignment" will change criminal justice in California KALW News, September 6, 2011
Release the Real Low Risk Prisoners
As the state of California responds to the recent Supreme Court decision ordering the release of 30,000 or more prisoners, there needs to be an awareness of what kinds of prisoners pose the greatest risk of returning to crime.  It always seems to be the conventional wisdom that those serving time for property, drug and other non-violent offenders, plus parole violators, are considered to be "low-risk" offenders.  Thus any discussion of what kinds of prisoners that ought to be released tends…
California and the Prison Crisis
California has been facing a prison crisis for decades and it has been constantly flip-flopping.  Back in 2007 Los Angeles Times writer George Skelton summed it up well saying that when it comes to crime both the politicians and the electorate "have demanded that California lock up the bad guys and keep 'em there for a very long time. But they haven't wanted to pay for it." At that point in time (February) the prison population was around 173,000 yet the capacity was about 100,000.  A…
San Quentin State Prison
On March 17, 2011 CJCJ staff toured San Quentin State Prison with the kind permission and supervision of Lieutenant Samuel Robinson.  San Quentin State Prison, home to 4,999 incarcerated men and currently operating at 162% of its design capacity is touted as one of the more progressive California state prisons, yet it struggles to provide services to its burgeoning prison population.   The gymnasium at San Quentin has been utilized as a large open dormitory for the past twenty years, in…
Big Changes in Incarceration Policy Needed to Confront Overcrowding
Today, 70,000 nonviolent offenders are locked up in state prison at bankrupting $3.5 billion per year costs to the state, with fiscal conditions getting gloomier as courts order upgrades in prison conditions and reductions in prison populations. Do local jails have the capacity to absorb a significant proportion, perhaps the 30,000 to 40,000, of these drug and property offense convicts--or even, on an immediate basis, the 15,000 or so we found were imprisoned for extremely low-level , mostly…
Shasta County has high number of low-level offenders
Shasta County has high number of low-level offenders Redding Record Searchlight, January 29, 2011.
Brewer, Barbour and Justice
It's another year, but the same kinds of stories continue.  Governors Jan Brewer (Arizona) and Haley Barbour (Mississippi) may be about 2000 miles apart but their conservative philosophies are about the same -- and with similar results.  Facing a budget crisis that plagues every state in the country, Brewer, like most other governors, has proposed huge cuts in human services, most notably in medical transplant coverage .  This issue has received national attention as several residents face…
What "California nation" means for criminal justice reform
"California avoids GOP wave," read one Washington headline after the November 2010 midterm elections; another accused our state of being "impervious to change." Not true. There was big change here, with crucial implications for critically needed criminal justice reforms. California's resistance to the right-wing wave was profound. Democrats captured eight state offices  (up from five of eight in 2008) and held its U.S. senate post, usually by double-digit margins. The Democratic Party,…
Justice Policy Journal - Volume 7, Number 2 - Fall 2010
(ISSN 1530-3012) From the editor Psychotropic Control of Women Prisoners: The Perpetuation of Abuse of Imprisoned Women Prohibiting Registered Sex Offenders from Being at School: Assessing the Collateral Consequences of a Public Policy Parental Incarceration, Termination of Parental Rights and Adoption: A Case Study of the Intersection Between the Child Welfare and Criminal No-Woman's Land? On Female Crime and Incarceration, Past, Present, and Future In Memory of John Irwin …
California Prison Crisis Goes All the Way to the Supreme Court
The case is Schwarzenegger v. Plata and it epitomizes the dire circumstances of the nation's penal system.  With more than 2 million locked up on any given day, including about 1.5 million in prison (not to mention the fact that more than 7 million adults are somewhere in the criminal justice system on any given day -- jail, prison, probation, parole), the country has come face to face with the inevitable result of its incessant need to punish.  Not only does the US have the highest rate of…
Dropping Out and Imprisonment
In a previous blog I discussed the relationship between dropping out and crime among juveniles.  In this blog I noted that that compared to high school graduates dropouts "earn lower wages, pay fewer taxes, are more likely to commit crimes, are less likely to be employed, are more likely to be on welfare, and are less healthy."  "" On my web site I expanded on this by exploring what the Children's Defense Fund has called the prison pipeline or the connection between the…
Drug and Immigration Offenses Dominate Court Cases and Prisons
The latest figures from the Bureau of Justice Statistics show that drug and immigration offenses constitute a large proportion of the cases processed in the criminal justice system, along with a rising number of immigration cases.   Starting with the latest numbers from the series " Felony Defendants in Large Urban Counties, 2006 " we find that between 1994 and 2006 drug cases constituted the largest proportion of felony cases, ranging from 34% to 37%.  During the same period the proportion…
Justice Policy Journal - Volume 4, Number 2 - Fall 2007
(ISSN 1530-3012) From the editor Parolee Day Treatment in California: Action Research with Parolees in an Urban Setting Life After 'Life': Wrongly Convicted But Never Truly Free Juvenile Sexual Offenders: An analytical View of Effective Programming Jail Wall Drawings and the Role of Artistic Creativity in Community Reintegration A Convict Criminology Perspective on Women Guarding Men From the editor By Elizabeth Brown, Ph.D. and Randall G. Shelden, M.A., Ph.D. From The…
Experts agree Hayes would have tough time getting paroled
Experts agree Hayes would have tough time getting paroled The Stockton Record, May 8, 2010
Experts agree Hayes would have tough time getting paroled
Experts agree Hayes would have tough time getting paroled Stockton Reporter, May 8, 2010.
Three judges and the California prison system
The recent decision by the three judge panel in the Coleman/Plata case should be applauded as a short but positive step forward in forcing some degree of sanity upon the broken California prison system.  Unfortunately, the fact that a panel of Federal judges was forced to step in and force the state to make long overdue policy decisions is simply another poignant reminder of our political systems dysfunctionality.   California's prison crisis is a political construct that an evil scheming mad…
Youth Prison Model Sets High Bar
Youth Prison Model Sets High Bar Wall Street Journal, October 12, 2009
San Francisco: The "Selma" of Drug Policing
In any given year over the last two decades, San Francisco Police Department arrests for simple possession of marijuana have varied by up to 300% over other years. After a 1999 peak (946 arrests), numbers plunged to 357 in 2007, then nearly doubled to 609 in 2008. Why? Who knows? Nobody seriously contends pot smoking varies that radically over time, if the streets' sweet haze densities are any indicator. What has changed, and radically, is who's getting arrested. In the peak year of 1999,…
New California Crime Stats: The Good-Bad News

Just released Criminal Justice Statistics Center 2008 crime numbers and Center for Health Statistics 2007 death figures deal a double whammy to three decades of California's criminal justice failure. But first, the ironies. The 2008 figures show California's crime index (key offenses reported to police) stands at its lowest level since 1963, including the lowest rates of homicide in 40 years. Among youth, 2008 arrest rates continue the trend of the last seven years, with felony rates at their…

Now the hard part of prison reform...
Last month, CJCJ released a detailed study documenting the feasibility, benefits, and cost savings of closing California's juvenile prison system and transferring its dwindling roster of inmates to county detention facilities. The main obstacle now is to convince counties and traditionalists that the state will provide sufficient funding, which would be a fraction of the annual $250,000 per ward, $400 million total cost of state lockup.  Juveniles are the easy part of deincarceration reform,…

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