CDCR incarcerates people convicted of violent felonies, supervises those released to parole, and provides rehabilitation programs to help them reintegrate into the community with the tools to be drug-free, healthy, and employable members of society. The Budget proposes total funding of $13.1 billion ($12.7 billion General Fund and $345 million other funds) for the Department in 2021-22.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted every aspect of prison operations and the 2020 Budget Act projected an overall adult inmate average daily population of 122,536 in 2020-21. The average daily adult inmate population for 2020-21 is now projected to be 97,950, a decrease of 20 percent from spring projections.
Some of this decrease is attributable to suspending county intake in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, which when resumed, will increase the population. Current projections show the adult inmate population is trending downward and is expected to decrease by another 2,626 offenders between 2020-21 and 2021-22.
Community Supervision Program
Beginning July 1, 2020, CDCR implemented a community supervision program. Inmates are eligible if they are within 180 days of release; are not serving a current term for domestic violence, a violent crime, or are required to register as a sex offender; and do not have a risk assessment score that indicates a high risk for violence. About two-thirds of these offenders were released to Post Release Community Supervision (county probation) and one-third were released to state parole. CDCR continues to release eligible inmates within 180 days of their natural release. CDCR also previously reviewed and released offenders deemed at high risk for COVID-19 as part of case-by-case offender reviews. Similar reviews are ongoing with a focus on determinately sentenced offenders within 12 months of release
On July 9, 2020, CDCR applied a one-time 12-week positive programming credit to all eligible inmates to recognize the impact the COVID-19 Pandemic has had on inmates’ access to programs and credit earnings.
Proposition 57, the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016
Proposition 57 is currently estimated to reduce the average daily adult inmate population by approximately 7,300 in 2021-22 (about 3,500 less than projected in the 2020 Budget Act), and by approximately 13,000 in 2023-24 (about 500 more than projected in the 2020 Budget Act).
The 2020 Budget Act projected an overall parolee average daily population of 47,929 in 2020-21. The average daily parolee population is now projected to be 45,924 in 2021-22, a decrease of approximately four percent from spring projections.
Project Hope provides quarantine and isolation sheltering to individuals returning to the community from California state prisons. Through Project Hope, individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 or were exposed to COVID-19 while incarcerated are able to safely finish their medically directed quarantine or isolation to help prevent disease transmission into their communities. CDCR, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, and the Department of General Services collaboratively provide safe transportation, hotel accommodations, and meal services to all participants. Project Hope is a voluntary program available to both parolees and individuals releasing to Post Release Community Supervision. Project Hope does not replace existing post-incarceration transition programs managed by the state, counties, and local service providers, and participants of Project Hope remain under the jurisdiction and supervision of either state parole or county probation departments. As of December 17, 2020, Project Hope has served approximately 934 returning individuals since its inception in April 2020.
Focus On Inmate Rehabilitation And Reentry
The Administration is committed to improving outcomes for incarcerated individuals and enhancing public safety by improving rehabilitation and reentry programs. The 2020 Budget Act made critical near-term investments to support this long-term goal, such as reduction of reception center processing times to allow inmates to begin participating in academic and rehabilitative programming sooner; changes to good conduct credits to provide greater incentives for inmates to engage in good conduct such as participating in work and program assignments; and establishment of a Youth Offender Rehabilitative Community at Valley State Prison to create an environment conducive to positive behavioral programming and targeted educational programs. The Budget builds upon those investments with adaptations necessary due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. In total, the Budget includes $546.9 million General Fund for rehabilitative programs—nearly double the funding level in 2012-13.
Technology For Inmates Participating In Academic Programs
Access to remote rehabilitative programming is critical to providing incarcerated individuals continued programming during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Remote programming is also an important factor in providing rehabilitation access to those individuals who may not have access to in-person training, such as those with medical conditions. The Budget includes $23.2 million General Fund in 2021-22, and $18 million ongoing General Fund, for information technology to enhance access to rehabilitative programming. Specifically, the proposal includes the purchase of approximately 38,000 laptop computers for use by academic program participants (such as students in basic adult education, GED, or community college courses), as well as the expansion of virtualization infrastructure, network bandwidth, and the creation of a secure online academic portal that will allow students to complete educational curriculum outside of the classroom.
Changes to Good Conduct Credits
CDCR will implement changes that will provide greater incentives for individuals to engage in good conduct such as by participating in work and program assignments. It is estimated that these changes will save $2.7 million General Fund in 2020-21.
Consolidate Fire Camps
The Budget includes the closure of eight camps that will be selected in coordination with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The locations selected will take into consideration proximity to other fire camps in an effort to minimize impacts to communities that rely on the services provided by inmate fire crews. CDCR’s savings are estimated to be $7.4 million General Fund in 2020-21 and $14.7 million ongoing.
Remote Court Appearances
CDCR will pursue efforts to increase video capabilities to enable remote court appearances by inmates and staff. This will result in efficiencies associated with transportation of inmates from their assigned prison to a prison closer to the court, and daily transportation of inmates to court. This will also reduce inmate absences from rehabilitation and work assignments. Statutory changes are needed to implement this proposal.
Cap Parole Terms
In an effort to align community supervision terms with evidence that most recidivism occurs earlier in the supervision period, create incentives for positive behavior change, and more effectively use limited state resources, the Budget will cap supervision for certain parolees at 24 months and establish earned discharge for non-Penal Code section 290 registrants at 12 months. The estimated savings are expected to be $23.2 million General Fund in 2020-21, increasing to $64.6 million ongoing General Fund in 2023-24. The Budget includes a reduction of funding associated with this proposal. However, statutory changes are necessary to implement the proposal and realize these projected savings.