Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed 2023-2024 budget includes an increase for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation although eight prison facilities will experience full or partial closures, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Newsom’s overall state budget of $297 billion for 2023- 24 includes total expenditures of $14.5 billion for the prison system.
The state closed the Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy in September 2021 and has also ordered complete closures of the California Correctional Center in Lassen County and Chuckawalla Valley State Prison in Riverside County.
The governor also anticipates partial closings at Folsom’s Women Facility, at Pelican Bay State Prison, at California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo, at the California Rehabilitation Center in Riverside County, at the California Institution for Men in San Bernardino County, and at California Correctional Institution in Kern County.
The Bee reported that in 2020 the California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated closing five state prisons would save California taxpayers $1.5 billion a year. However, despite the closing of prisons and a decreasing prison population ― estimated to fall to 87,295 by 2025 ― departmental budgetary allocations to CDCR are not decreasing.
In addition to the reduction in the incarcerated population, the governor’s administration forecasts the parolee population to decline from 43,668 to 36,473 in the next four years.
Californians United for a Responsible Budget is an organization that supports more prison closures. The group maintains that any successful transformation of the penal system must include a roadmap for how California can diligently reduce prison expenditures.
Amber Rose-Howard, executive director of the organization, told the Bee that the governor should pull more money away from CDCR and redirect that money directly into communities affected by the closures and to cities which must improve infrastructure to support formerly incarcerated people.
“The budget’s investments in positive programming for incarcerated people are important, but the state must focus on life-affirming investments within the community in order to sustain reduced reliance on prisons and to increase public safety,” Howard said in a news release.