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California State Capitol Building

Photo by Justin Brockie | flickr creative commons

On May 14, Governor Jerry Brown released his FY 2014 – 15 Budget May Revision, which offers a projected revenue increase of $2.4 billion. Per CJCJ’s January statement on the proposed Budget, we are encouraged by some of the Governor’s policies that will reduce the state prison population and improve public safety.

Yet, we remain concerned by the state’s reliance on incarceration and proposed $500 million for jail construction, combined with a continued lack of sustainable front-end” funding for programming and re-entry services. The May Revise does add $9 million for community-based reentry programs through the Recidivism Reduction Fund, thus increasing the total 2014 – 15 funding amount to $91 million. CJCJ agrees with the Legislative Analyst’s Office that such funding must be sustainable and allocated with appropriate transparency and accountability to be effective. Finally, we are concerned by the cut of $2.9 million for prison population reduction strategies, which leaves only $3.1 million for necessary reforms such as expanding elderly and medical parole, and creating a parole process for specified second-strikes.

Moreover, there are no substantial juvenile justice policies presented in either the Governor’s FY 2014 – 15 Budget or May Revise. The state youth correctional system, the Division of Juvenile Facilities (DJF), continues to operate at a very high cost to taxpayers, while its congregate system of care is archaic. Governor Brown’s proposed FY 2014 – 15 Budget lists DJF per capita costs at $274,102 for an average population of 645. The May Revise slightly adjusts this daily population to 707 for 2014 and 656 for FY-2014 – 15. As counties assume greater responsibility for their high-needs youth, the state must provide support and oversight.

CJCJ hopes that Governor Brown and other state policymakers will recognize our recommendations and concerns. Our state needs a sustainable and innovative 21st-century public safety agenda that best serves all Californians.