Sen. Steve Knight
[KHTS] – Senate Bill 105 regarding state prison reform, co-authored by state Sen. Steve Knight, R-Antelope Valley, was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday.
SB 105 is an alternative to Assembly Bill 109, which has long been a point of contention among state and county government officials.
AB 109 allows for the transfer of inmates from state prisons to county or city jails and was implemented in October 2011 as an attempt to comply with the federal order to bring the state inmate population down to 110,000 by the end of the year, according to a statement from Knight’s office.
SB 105, on the other hand, is expected reduce in the inmate population in state prisons by leasing out-of-state beds, beds at private prisons, and beds at local jails.
“SB 105 also creates a fund to encourage the reduction of recidivism and creates a framework for other changes to bring about longer-term criminal justice reforms,” said Jeffrey Callison, spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. “It also asks the federal court for a three-year extension to comply with its order to give the state and its county partners more time to create a lasting solution. Only if the court refuses to grant that extension will California outsource thousands of inmates to out-of-state prisons.”
Without outsourcing, more than 10,000 inmates would have to be released or transferred to comply with the government order, Knight’s statement said.
“Releasing 10,000 dangerous felons is not an option,” Knight said. “It is time we accept the gravity and reality of the situation, and put provisions in place that protect law-abiding, innocent Californians.”
Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich has also been a vocal opponent of AB 109.
Tony Bell, spokesman for Antonovich, said that focusing on outsourcing prisoners is the best option for the state and would keep costs down.
Housing the prisoners in private facilities costs less than half of what state prisons cost and is much less expensive that releasing prisoners early, Bell said. He cited the costs associated with re-arresting, trying, convicting and housing repeat offenders, not to mention the human cost.
In a previous interview, Callison said that outsourcing is something the state has already doing to handle overcrowding. Before SB 105 was passed, California contracted for 9,000 additional beds in three other states.
Even with both AB 109 and SB 105 in place, California’s prisons are still overcrowded and state officials must find additional ways to comply with the federal mandate and reduce the number of inmates, according to Knight’s statement.