Starting this week, state prisoners are being moved to county jails or probation to serve out their sentences. It’s all part of a plan called realignment, an attempt to reduce the state prison population to meet a federal court order. Counties are struggling to comply, and some worry public safety is in jeopardy.

Matthew Cate, secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Barry Krisberg, director of the Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law

  • dean liman

    California’s prison budget dwarfs its spending on higher education (Univ
    of Calif + Cal State systems): spending on these two systems is less
    than 60% of the budget for corrections. To put this in perspective we’re

        33 campuses with 670,000 students
        30,000 guards and other prison-system employees

    Check this graph for recent/future budget projections (Corrections vs. Higher Education):

  • Jeff

    If there is local political corruption, (converted drug money, into political activism), wouldn’t the county jail solution be a worse remedy?

  • stevedisq

    The current national employment trends, with employers screening out applicants on the basis of readily available background checks, credit ratings, or simply a status as unemployed, does not bode well for this program. It’s bad enough for non-offenders, let alone offenders, as it is.
    I am in favor of checking the growth of the correctional system, which has become a cottage industry in most states; but without actually preparing offenders for a life outside, including jobs with living wages and some hope for advancement, I fear this program is doomed from the start.
    Offenders need training for marketable skills before they are released, and jobs waiting for them when they are released. This needs to be coupled with other support, much like an AA program, until those released can really make it on their own.
    The comment comparing corrections expenditures to educational expenditures is sobering, and really tells the story.

  • 1PeterDuMont2STARALLIANCE8

    Whatever society does with inmates, we should definitely include civic values education.  We lock people up for months and years and say, in effect, “You shouldn’t have done that!”  “As a result of your bad behavior, we are denying you your freedom.”  

    Typically, however, prisons and jails do not provide substantive guidance and encouragement to every inmate as to HOW they should behave in society; how they SHOULD handle the difficult balance of freedom and responsibility in every area of life and social interaction.Education for good will (“to will good”) and a comprehensive set of other “civic peace values” or “Primary Peace Principles” — need not be joyless, but it can and should be approached from a non-sectarian, non-partisan perspective.  In this way, such education can be systematic, state-supportable, and mandatory for “graduating” from jail.  And graduation should require passing some tests of adequate understanding.While we’re at it, we should make scientifically established techniques for deep relaxation and stress reduction available to every inmate.Mandatory peace education won’t be a complete panacea.  But it sure will help a lot.  It’s bound to be highly cost effective — much cheaper in the end than expensive warehousing WITHOUT such education, and the resulting sky-high recidivism rates.

    Peter DuMont
    Founder and President
    Since 1985
    Berkeley, California

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor