SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Senate Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety voted last Wednesday to reject the additional $250 million for county jail construction that Governor Jerry Brown proposed in his revised budget proposal. The Assembly subcommittee is expected to follow suit when it votes on the same issue later this month, according to The Sacramento Bee.
The proposal is an addition to the $2.2 billion already being invested in county jail construction since 2008. More than 40 counties are currently building new jails, which account for 14,000 new beds.
Instead of using the $250 million for county jail construction, the California Senate Budget Subcommittee voted to redirect funds to prevention, diversion and re-entry programs, especially as the state continues to pass reforms that ease overcrowding. Already, Proposition 47 reduced jail populations by about 10 percent, and other reforms such as Senate Bill 966 would repeal the sentence enhancement for prior drug convictions, resulting in a significant reduction in extreme sentences for inmates who serve time in county jails.
Californians United for Responsible Budget, a statewide coalition of more than 70 grassroots organizations, celebrated the proposal rejection after working months to reduce the state’s prison system. “This victory reflects the power and will of Californians who are standing against more jails in their counties, but the fight is not over,” said Kim Carter of the Time for Change Foundation in San Bernardino, according to YubaNet.com. “We won in the Senate, and we will continue to build on this momentum to ensure that decision makers in the Assembly are compelled to definitively reject any more money toward imprisonment.”
The proposed jail funding must pass the full budget by June 15 in order to be signed by the governor by July 1, according to YubaNet.com.