This article is from May, but wow what a crazy statistic. I guess there was just no room for Corzine…From The Economist:
Excessive incarceration is an American problem. The country has about 5% of the world’s population but almost 25% of its prisoners, with the world’s largest number of inmates and highest per capita rate of incarceration. California eagerly participated in this trend of locking up ever more people. During Mr Brown’s previous stint as governor in the 1970s the state switched to more inflexible sentencing. It then spent another two decades adding “tough-on-crime” laws that kept extending sentences even for minor crimes.
The resulting prison-building boom, and rapacious bargaining by the prison-guards union, meant that state penitentiaries became the fastest-growing major cost in the state budget. California’s 33 prisons and associated camps therefore bear no small responsibility for the state’s recurring budget crises, and the resultant crunch on school and university funding.
Is the solution worse than the problem?
As part of realignment, the state currently allocates money to counties based on how many prisoners each county sent to state prison before the reform took effect. This formula rewards lock-‘em-up counties such as Kern, Riverside and Shasta. It punishes counties such as San Francisco or Alameda that already had modern rehabilitation practices. Since sheriffs can use the money as they please, some might simply build more jails, then fill them up again.
Repeat after me: USA! USA!
Full article here.