FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 10, 2020

CONTACT:
Will Matthews, Californians for Safety and Justice,
(909) 261-1398; will@safeandjust.org

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Californians for Safety and Justice commended Gov. Gavin Newsom for releasing a proposed budget that contains investments in proven public safety strategies and a clear roadmap for shuttering a state prison, while investing unprecedented resources to safeguard the state’s program to support crime victims’ recovery and continue critical improvements to California’s probation system.

The budget also includes a record $122.5 million in Proposition 47 savings – an increase of $44 million from last year’s savings due primarily to the state’s reduced reliance on private prisons. Each year, the money saved as a result of reduced incarceration from Proposition 47, passed overwhelmingly by state voters in 2014, is returned to local communities to fund treatment and mental health programs, truancy prevention programs and trauma recovery services that help survivors of crime heal from their trauma.

INVESTING IN PROBATION SUCCESS

The governor’s budget includes an investment of more than $200 million over the next four years aimed at reducing the recidivism of people on local probation. The budget also includes reforms to reduce felony and misdemeanor probation terms to two years, and allow for earned discharge for probationers, which is aligned research showing that the maximum time needed to engage people on probation in behavior change and reduce the likelihood of reoffending is no more than two years. The governor’s proposal is a smart investment that improves public safety and saves taxpayer money. It also builds upon the successes of county probation departments in recent years to reduce prison and jail populations by expanding practices proven to reduce recidivism, enhance the success of people exiting probation and increase the stability of communities.

California is safer when our public safety systems focus on what works best to reduce recidivism and make communities healthier and safer,” said Lenore Anderson, president of Californians for Safety and Justice. “When probation system resources are tailored to incentivize success and meet individual underlying needs, we can better ensure the cycles of crime and incarceration stop. Under the governor’s proposal, people will move forward to get jobs and contribute to their families and communities.”

CLOSING A STATE PRISON

The governor’s proposed budget anticipates the state prison population will continue to decline by about 4,300 prisoners between 2021 and 2024 which would allow California to close a state-operated prison in the next five years.

“Over-incarceration and wasteful prison spending undermine public safety,” said Jay Jordan, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice. “The status quo of unchecked multi-billion dollar prison spending contributes to high recidivism rates and the destabilizing of communities, failing to stop cycles of crime. We applaud the governor’s leadership to advance a proposal that is a smart step forward for California and public safety.”

PROVIDING HISTORIC SUPPORT FOR CRIME VICTIMS

The governor’s budget proposal also commits funding to ensure the health of the state’s victim compensation fund that provides essential support for survivors of crime. The proposal would make California one of a handful of states in the nation to commit general fund dollars to its victim compensation fund. The governor’s budget provides necessary support to the crime victim support program without relying on increased fines and fees imposed on Californians by courts and the justice system.

“California’s victims’ compensation fund is crucial for enabling survivors of crime to recover from trauma and the other negative consequences associated with crime and violence,” said Tinisch Hollins, California state director of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. “Gov. Newsom deserves credit for boldly standing with survivors and demonstrating national leadership to ensure those most impacted by crime can access the help they need.”

Californians for Safety and Justice also commends Gov. Newsom for including in his budget proposal commitments to reviewing records in statewide criminal justice databases to identify people eligible to have old convictions expunged and having those expungements happen automatically, as well as bolstering the capacity and role of the public defender. The governor’s proposal also includes a significant commitment to the rehabilitation of state prisoners, including bringing back a third day of visitation, expanding classroom technology for education programming within CDCR, and expanding the youth offender program at Valley State Prison.

 

BACKGROUND ON PROBATION

●      Probation is a form of community supervision to effectively hold people accountable for their rehabilitation without the use of incarceration.

o   Its goal is to prevent crime, reduce recidivism, and promote safe and healthy communities.

o   It is a connector between state and local government, the courts, education and the community, prioritizing a balance of services and supervision to address people’s underlying challenges so they successfully exit the justice system for good.

●      There are 10 times more people sentenced to probation annually than are incarcerated, but it receives just a fraction of state public safety resources.

●      Over the past several years, California’s probation system has progressed to significantly reduce the percentage of people cycling in and out of the justice system.  Legislation like SB 678 have dramatically reduced the number of people sent back to state prison for a technical violation of their supervision.

●      The governor’s budget adheres to scientific research and field perspectives that show most of what probation can accomplish can happen within a two-year supervision term, in most cases.

●      Successful probation programs incentivize behavior change by allowing people to earn an earlier exit from the program by successfully completing job training, treatment and educational programming.

●      Research also shows that the level of supervision should be individually tailored and based entirely on the risk that person poses and the support they would need to change their behavior, rather than simply based on the crime for which the person was convicted.

o   The governor’s budget would expand and support the services that probation can use to successfully address each individual’s needs, frontloading them for maximum impact toward increasing stability and reducing recidivism.

o   The number of people placed on misdemeanor or court probation continues to grow but that system has not utilized the best practices of the rest of the probation system, something the governor’s budget proposes to fix by aligning best practices.

▪       This would address some of the chronic repeat misdemeanor offending.