Inmates at Chino State Prison

Governor Jerry Brown has declared the prison emergency over in California. He has asked a federal court to lift the population cap it imposed on state prisons, and to remove federal oversight of inmate medical care. The governor says California has done enough to improve conditions in its prisons, and that further reducing the population would jeopardize public safety. We analyze the state’s progress on prison reform and discuss the best path forward.

Joan Petersilia, criminologist and co-director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center
Terri McDonald, undersecretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Rebekah Evenson, staff attorney with the Prison Law Office

  • Livegreen

    Thank you to Rebecca for your hard work on this. However, at what point can we also balance the rights of citizens for constitutional protections from those who have committed serious crimes?

    Thank you to Terri and Gov. Brown for sticking up for citizens. However, until we get even more taxes on the super-rich, when is Gov. Brown going to make law enforcement, parks & other public services a priority over high wages & unfunded liabilities to public employees?

  • Chris OConnell

    I really like Jerry Brown.

  • GaryWolf

    Terri McDonald’s inflammatory reference to Charles Manson during this discussion convinces me not to take her point of view seriously. The statement that “Charles Manson scores as low risk” is meant to short-circuit rational discussion by giving the impression that releasing low risk inmates will mean bloody mass murder. A realistic look at the stats on low risk inmates will show how absurd that is, but as long as she is saying “Charles Manson, Charles Manson, Charles Manson” nobody can think straight.

  • Gabe

    These are prisoners. People that have broken into your house, stolen your car, assaulted others, and violated the law. Prison is not where we should be focusing our attention, it’s schools and community programs, so people don’t end up there. I feel, and imagine the majority of Californians too, no desire to improve healthcare, or much else in prisons. If they want improved healthcare the individuals should pay for it, like everyone else does. Nothing is free. This is ridiculous.

  • James Ivey

    The reality is that Californians largely want to lock everybody up forever and not pay for it. Is it really any surprise that this eventually led to a violation of the Constitution? We have more prisoners per capita than any other state — and, if I recall correctly, any other country — and yet we repeatedly vote for locking more people up for longer sentences and for cutting taxes. We should either raise taxes to pay for the incarceration of as many people as we’d like to incarcerate or release prisoners to reduce the prison population to one we’re willing to pay for.

  • David C

    As I indicated during the program as a caller, investments in support of prisons – e.g.the new prison medical center and new prisons- get maximal economic and political support; however, savings to state budgets via early release programs are minimally re-invested into evidence based practice re-entry programming and community re-entry. The latter receives minimal economic and political support; yet, the latter is a wise investment with good returns in terms of public safety and restoration. The former demonstrates our “penchant for punishment” and produces minimal returns on investment: socially, morally, and economically. In this age of scarcity, wise investments with good triple bottom line returns should be our goal: politically,economically and morally.

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