On June 26, 2006, the Governor called a special session of the Legislature to address prison crowding and recidivism measures. The federal courts are putting California’s state prisons in receivership because of health programs in the prisons are inadequate. California’s prison population is at an all-time high totaling 171,000 inmates. The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is double-bunking inmates and there are currently more than 16,000 inmates housed in prison gyms and day rooms throughout the various 33 correctional institutions. The special session was to take under consideration the following subjects:
1. To consider and act upon legislation to transfer low-risk women inmates out of state prison and into community correctional facilities.
2. To consider and act upon legislation to appropriate funds, including appropriations for lease-revenue funds, to build additional prisons.
3. To consider and act upon legislation to establish and fund secure reentry facilities.
4. To consider and act upon legislation to expedite and streamline the state contracting process for implementing programs and construction of additional prisons and secure reentry facilities.
The State Senate held hearings and passed to the Assembly five bills before the end of session, however, the Assembly was unable to hear and vote on these bills: SB 8XX (Bowen), SB 9XX (Speier), SB 10XX (Machado), SB 11XX (Machado), and SB 12XX (Machado).
During the month of September, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) preformed an informal survey of inmates and found that more than 19,000 expressed interest in transferring to a correctional facility outside of California. The number of inmates who can be transferred will depend on the type of beds available in out-of-state facilities selected through negotiations.
Corrections officials are currently inspecting prison facilities in nine states, including Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Indiana, Michigan, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Alabama, to evaluate whether the meet California’s security needs and other criteria. These facilities had expressed interest in housing California inmates earlier this year by responding to the department’s Request for Information. Some of the interested facilities are government-run by county sheriff departments and others are operated by private correctional companies. Corrections expects to enter into contracts three to five years in length that could result in housing for 2,000 to 5,000 California inmates. In addition or providing much needed relief to overcrowding, it is anticipated that the contracts could reduce the cost of housing compared to costs in California. It is seeking a total of up to 5,000 available beds outside California for immediate housing of inmates. The emergency proclamation also will allow the department to contract for facility space, inmate transportation, inmate screenings, and the services of qualified personnel and/or for supplies, materials, equipment and other services needed to immediately mitigate severe overcrowding.
On October 4, 2006, the Governor issued an emergency proclamation allowing Corrections officials to immediately contract with out-of-state correctional facilities to temporarily house California inmates.
Important corrections legislation enacted included SB 896 (Runner) allowing other public agencies that contract for emergency health services to contract with providers for emergency health care services for care to local law enforcement patients; SB 1154 (Chesbro) appropriating $23,218,000 for court-mandated increases in prison doctor’s salaries and $143,952,000 to cover a shortfall in various health care programs in the prisons driven by costs associated with contract medical, registry, pharmaceutical, and medical guarding and transportation; SB 1453 (Speier) requiring nonserious, nonviolent, non-sex-offender inmates who have completed imprison drug treatment programs to, whenever possible upon release from prison, be placed in a 150-day residential aftercare drug treatment program; SB 1562 (Maldonado) providing that the state is to reimburse any county for costs associated with mentally disordered prisoners held in state hospitals; AB 971 (J. Horton) allowing the Inspector General to review all candidates for appointment as superintendent of a juvenile correctional facility; AB 1810 (Assembly Budget Committee) providing for $125,931,000 (General Fund) and $475,000 (Inmate Welfare Fund) to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for prison and parole population adjustments and to increase the capacity of the Correctional Officer Academy; AB 1998 (Chan) directing the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to establish a parole program, including pre-release assessment and evaluation, in Alameda County for inmates committed to prison for non-serious felonies; AB 2436 (Ruskin) directing the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation to the extent that existing and future resources are available, to establish a parole reentry program in East Palo Alto; AB 2870 (De La Torre) expanding existing provisions of law regarding medical testing of inmates and prisoners for HIV and AIDS to include hepatitis B and C, as specified; and AB 3064 (Assembly Public Safety Committee) requiring the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to establish a Reentry Advisory Committee.
Vetoed corrections legislation of note included SB 814 (Romero) requiring the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to eliminate segregation for male and female inmates based solely on race while ensuring the security of the inmates, the correctional facilities, and the public; SB 1373 (Romero) requiring the Division of Juvenile Justice to have as a performance objective, the reduction of the average length of stay and a reduction of net time added to all ward parole consideration dates for disciplinary reasons; SB 1521 (Romero) requiring the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to allow news media representatives to interview prisoners on both a pre-arranged and randomly-encountered basis; SB 1589 (Romero) requiring the Division of Juvenile Justice to explore options to provide specified programs outside of division facilities for female offenders, if those programs are available and consistent with the protection of the public; SB 1616 (Kuehl) assisting incarcerated youth with disabilities in reinstating or applying for Medi-Cal and supplemental security income benefits; AB 1677 (Koretz) requiring the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to allow nonprofit or public health care agencies to distribute sexual barrier protection devices, such as condoms and dental dams, to inmates; AB 1832 (Bermudez) making legislative findings and declarations concerning the usefulness of continuous inmate alcohol monitoring systems; and AB 2917 (Liu) establishing a Gender Responsive Strategic Commission to evaluate conditions of female offenders.