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An Open Letter to the California Legislature:

August 282013

California State LegislatureState CapitolSacramento, CA 95814

RE: SB 105 proposal to spend $315 million on private prisons and leasing jail space

Dear elected officials,

On behalf of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, I write in strong opposition to Senate Bill 105, which would allocate $315 million to leasing private prison and local jail space to reduce overcrowding in state prisons.

The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ) is a private non-profit organization that promotes balanced and humane criminal justice policies to reduce incarceration and foster long-term public safety in California. CJCJ’s mission is pursued through the development of model programs, technical assistance, and policy analysis. 

SB 105 is an expensive proposal that regurgitates the mistakes that resulted in the current prison crisis. These expenses do not exist in a vacuum. The Governor’s January 2012 budget triggers resulted in deep cuts across a broad section of government services such as education, medical care, and support services for people with disabilities and the elderly. Budget cuts have also significantly hampered other justice administrators, such as the courts, from fulfilling their public safety mandate. Authorizing this additional spending on further incarceration cannot be justified in today’s fiscal climate.

There are many alternative ways to comply with the federal court order to reduce the prison population without compromising public safety or taxpayer dollars. For example, California could release the 9,000 low-risk people serving life sentences who have already served their minimum sentence length, or restore good time credits that incentivize rehabilitation for other low-risk prisoners, or provide compassionate release to low-risk people who are dying, terminally-ill, or elderly. None of these methods would result in the ad hoc early release of dangerous people. In fact, they would carefully select only those people who can show a strong record of rehabilitation, or incapacity to commit crime due to a terminal physical condition. These alternatives are supported in research conducted by recognized experts in the field, such as Dr. James Austin, President of the JFA Institute, and the Stanford Criminal Justice Center, and could be implemented immediately.

For these reasons, the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice strongly urges your opposition to SB 105. Please feel free to contact me with any questions at dmacallair@​cjcj.​org or at (415) 6215661 ext. 111.


Daniel MacallairExecutive Director