$102,000 annually for California is spending more than each person held in the state’s prisons, according to news reports. This cost is expected to increase to almost $113,000 in the fiscal year 2022.
Despite reduced prison and parole populations, the state prison/parole budget climbed $1.2 billion in the new year. Details of the spending were reported by the Sacramento Bee and the Los Angeles Daily News.
The state’s incarcerated population declined by about 26,000 since February 2020. The reduction was accomplished in part by the release of low-level offenders during the coronavirus pandemic.
The recent average base pay of California’s approximately 25,000 correctional officers was almost $88,000, plus about $15,000 in overtime pay. Figures for sergeants, lieutenants and other higher-ranking officials were not disclosed in the articles.
“Correctional officers are essential to the functioning of this state,” union president Glen Stailey said in an emailed statement. “During the pandemic, we weren’t on Zoom calls—we showed up in person for your shifts in the toughest conditions, day after day. We are worth every penny.”
California’s per-incarcerated person spending made headlines in 2017 when it topped $75,000. At the time it was compared to a year of tuition at Stanford University.
Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, is the chairperson of a subcommittee that oversees prison spending.
“We need to be doing sentencing reform. It’s our goal to help people rehabilitate and get back into their communities,” Garcia said.
Amber-Rose Howard, executive director of Californians for a Responsible Budget (CRB), said, “We’re asking the state not to look at it just through a labor or economic lens, but look at the harm we’ve done through incarceration in California and focus on correcting that.”
CRB has advocated for the state to close ten prisons and urged sentencing reform and redirecting funds into rehabilitative programs.