California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) fails to track, maintain and use data that would allow effective monitoring and management of its operations, even though expenditures increased by 32 percent to $10 billion over the last three years.
This is one of several surprising facts unearthed by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee in an audit requested by State Auditor Elaine M. Howle. Other findings:
Custody staff costs included $431 million in overtime during fiscal year 2007-08.
The Three Strikes law accounted for nearly 25 percent of the prisoner population, costing the State $19.2 billion for the additional time these prisoners will serve.
CAN’T TRACK CLASSES VS. RECIDIVISM
A total of $208 million was spent on academic and vocational programs, but due to inadequate tracking, CDCR is unable to determine the programs’ success.
CDCR is unable to quantify the number of inmates who complete programs or demonstrate improvement in reading scores. CDCR cannot track the relationship between recidivism rates and enrollment in its education programs.
CDCR cannot determine how long inmates are on waiting lists for programming, whether they parole before assigned to programs, whether they are properly assigned or how long they are in programs.
Asked why CDCR does not maintain individual prisoner data, superintendent of the Office of Correctional Education Glenn Brooking said there is not sufficient computerized infrastructure among the institutions.
The auditors attempted to determine how many teachers, instructors and custody staff is necessary for prisoner participation in educational, vocational and other rehabilitation programs, but was informed that CDCR does not have a staffing plan based on educational and vocational prisoner needs. CDCR conceded that even if it had a staffing plan based on prisoner needs, it would be unable to fill teacher and instructor vacancies due to a lack of classroom space and the current budget crisis.
This failure to track this data prevents CDCR from determining whether it is in compliance with laws that require literacy programs to be available to at least 60 percent of eligible prisoners.
To address these shortcomings, CDCR indicated that a new data tracking system should be available by 2011.
CDCR officials said they were planning to develop a budget change proposal to address this issue, but efforts were delayed due to the need to make at least $250 million in reductions to educational, vocational and other rehabilitation programs.
The chief deputy secretary, Elizabeth Siggins, said that after determining the most effective and efficient way to implement these reductions, CDCR plans to continue pursuing a comprehensive budget proposal to link long-term staffing packages to prisoner need, evidence-based principles and available space.
However, because CDCR does not sufficiently track prisoner data, any staffing plan must be composed without data indicating what resources are needed. CDCR reported that in February 2009, 68,000 of 133,000 inmates tested scored below ninth-grade reading level. Yet CDCR cannot ensure that the prisoners enrolled in literacy programs are the ones in need of such programs.
According to the Audit Report, CDCR’s policy regarding education programs is outdated and does not align with state laws regarding prisoner literacy.
FAILURE TO UPDATE ITS POLICIES
Because of CDCR’s failure to update its policies regarding adult education programs since 1993, staff may not be clear on the relevant requirements that should be met.
RECOMMENDATIONS by Elaine Howle:
1. To ensure addressing program needs of prisoners in the most cost-effective manners, CDCR should develop a staffing plan that allocates teacher and instructor positions at each institution based on the program needs of its prisoners.
2. To ensure whether compliance with state law and measurement of the efficacy of its programs in reducing recidivism is met, CDCR should track, maintain and use historical program assignment and waiting list data by prisoners.
3. To ensure staff is aware of relevant requirements related to prisoner literacy, CDCR should continue its efforts to update its adult education program policies.