The California prison population is expected to grow by 10,000 inmates in five years, according to forecasts from the state’s prison agency.
The increase could complicate Gov. Jerry Brown’s effort to reduce prison overcrowding in response to a court order capping the inmate population at 137.5 percent of design capacity, The Los Angeles Times reports. The judges ruled prison overcrowding has created unconstitutionally dangerous conditions.
To reduce prison overcrowding, Brown implemented the Realignment Plan in 2011. Realignment requires the state’s 58 counties to keep low-level offenders in its county jails rather than sending them to state prison.
The hike will occur even with Brown’s plan to add 3,700 more prison beds over the next two years. The projected increase comes after six years of declines, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
“Our department gathers data like this so
that we can project our future populations”
However, Times reported that the reason for the increasing prison population is unclear. The article cites that County prosecutors “dispute claims” they are “pursuing charges that put felons in prison instead of jail.”
The state reports the number of felons arriving in prison with two strikes began to rise immediately after the Legislature passed Brown’s realignment program in late 2011. Two Strikers make up more than 34,000 inmates, a record high.
A copy of a document that administration officials showed the prosecutors group displays a handful of counties responsible for most of the increase. They are led by Riverside and Fresno, which increased second strike convictions by 34 percent and 86 percent, respectively.
The new projections were released in late December, months later than normal. Corrections officials said the report was not deliberately delayed but subject to several months of internal review, prolonged by the need to explain the shift in direction.
“Our department gathers data like this so that we can project our future population and make appropriate staffing, facility and funding decisions,” said department spokesman Jeffrey Callison.