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CA Prisons: Cuts Coming to Inmate Rehab Programs

By Kamika Dunlap on February 16, 2010 1:13 PM

There seems to be no one solution for cost cutting measures to help California's prison system.

Amongst other changes, this will likely mean job cuts at inmate rehab programs at CA prisons.

That's the latest effort by the state to slash prison costs by laying off hundreds of workers who run rehabilitation programs.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, over the next several months, laying off prison workers is expected to cut $250 million from rehabilitation spending in prisons. The cutback may be a temporary fix for the state's $60 billion deficit, but in the long run it could result in higher recidivism rates.

With these cuts, there will be fewer workers to help inmates in their substance abuse and anger management programs, and fewer to help inmates get high school diplomas and teach them a trade. In addition, the cuts mean that 17,000 fewer inmates will be able to enroll in programs.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger also has suggested shipping some inmates Mexico as another way to save money, as previously discussed.

Under a state law signed as part of last year's budget package, the state is mandated to have a plan to adequately reduce its prison population.  As previously discussed, California was ordered by a panel of federal judges to cut its prison population by around 40,000 in the next two years.

California has a 70 percent recidivism rate -- the highest in the nation, the Chronicle reports. California's recidivism statute is more commonly known as the three-strikes law and increases sentencing when the recidivist commits additional crimes.

Critics say the program cuts could not only result in higher recidivism rates, but ultimately higher prison costs.

Like New York, California is looking at partnering with colleges and universities and seek federal grants to run the prison rehabilitation programs. The state also exploring how to design programs using offenders as tutors or counselors, and relying more on volunteers and teaching assistants.

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