A Blueprint? This house is falling apart
I read the latest work of fiction from the Department of Corrections called “The Future of California Corrections, A blueprint to save billions of dollars, end federal court oversight and improve the prison system” The Executive Summary tells tales of “challenges, golden opportunities and sustainable solutions” that will end lawsuits. Rehabilitative programs that will cure the inmates of their criminal thoughts and deeds; through the magic of downsizing and realignment. Crimes are no longer crimes, they are just low level misdeeds. All of this brought to us through the magical maneuvers of Cate The Dismantler at the behest of Governor Brown.
Reading this Blueprint report it appears the state prison system in California is primarily responsible for saving money by sending inmates to the communities, complying with court orders, and making criminals healthy. The burdens of keeping criminals incarcerated for terms prescribed by law, escape prevention, or public safety are afterthoughts. How can this be so?
It appears the report was put together by a process that involves getting input from various department heads then chewing and spitting out a regurgitated version of the original input that no longer resembles any input the department heads provided. Through the efforts of The Dismantlers Trained Seals a new report is spit out that tells a story of the future, revises past and present day realities.
Evidently moving 22,000 inmates, 16,000 parolees and billions of dollars from the state prison system to the counties is not only the principle objective of the prison system, but is magical. Presto change-o the prisons have fewer inmates and spend less money. Would it be feasible to move all the remaining inmates and money to the US Bureau of prisons and save even more? Think of the possibilities. All of our prison challenges would be gone; a Sustainable System would be ours.
Regarding the ongoing lawsuits, The Blueprint report sees bright skies ahead It will “put California in a position to end these lawsuits as soon as possible.” Will it be the end of lawsuits against the prison system? Maybe there is even an agreement with someone that no future lawsuits will be initiated by legal groups that have sucked billions of dollars from the taxpayers through the Department of Corrections. How will all those lawyers be able to afford expensive private schools for their kids?
How are the counties doing with their new realigned non-criminals? Unless they are filling a backlog of empty beds it is not likely they are enjoying the benefits of misalignment. I’m sure the state has plenty of challenging, sustainable explanations for any slight temporary blips in crime rates. Don’t worry; the rehabilitative programs will kick in any day now. As the community based provider mantra goes, “Treatment Works! Treatment Works!
Here are excerpts from some recent news stories about the wonders of Realignment or as I call it Misalignment:
County jail on verge of crisis
People who should be in prison are running free and breaking laws in Plumas County. Right now, local criminal justice leaders said there is very little they can do about it. “They are running wild,” Chief Probation Officer Sharon Reinert said. “They snub their nose at us and they know there is nothing we can do. They are a threat to the community. Reinert’s grim assessment represents the worst Assembly Bill 109 inmate realignment scenario coming true. Just nine months after AB 109 went into effect, the county jail is full.
Report: Solano County embracing Public Safety Realignment Act
By Ryan Chalk/The Reporter, Vacaville
While the numbers show that Solano County is helping to reduce the state’s prison population, there is a catch. Realignment was designed to allow those convicted of non-serious, non-violent, non-sex offense crimes, along with parole violators, to serve their sentences in county jails instead of state prison. It also shifted the responsibility for supervising paroled offenders to county probation departments.
Behind jail’s bars, time gets harder
Prison realignment has boosted the number of inmates, further crowding county facility. While state prisons are seeing a reduction in inmate population, the opposite is happening locally. Although the San Luis Obispo County Jail is clearly less dangerous than prison, its character has changed in the 10 months since realignment took effect. The new prisoners have packed already full housing units, causing more overcrowding, increasing tensions and altercations.
In addition, some of the offenders have served time in prison, giving them a higher level of criminal sophistication that can influence less seasoned inmates. “Now, since these guys aren’t moving up to the big leagues, they’re bringing the big leagues to us,” said Correctional Sgt. Mike Thompson, who has logged nearly 26 years working at County Jail.
“We were getting full before this, but this definitely contributes to overcrowding,” Kenitz said. “This is a problem happening all over the state, and we’re being proactive by putting bunks in instead of having them sleep in a portable bed.” (oh no, not non-traditional beds!!! –my comment)
Redding council vents over high crime rate Probation chief faces prison realignment heat
By Jenny Espino
Shasta County was supervising 300 realigned inmates as of the end of July. But what has exacerbated problems for police officers is a high number of repeat arrests of offenders who are not getting convicted because they fail to appear in court.
LA Uses Realignment Funds for Re-Entry and Mental Health Programs
Reporter: Scott Shafer
To help keep track of these former prisoners, the LA Police Department shifted 150 cops to realignment duty. Detective Eric Sage is one of them. His concern: losing track of ex-cons who use their mental health status to avoid surveillance by law enforcement.
According to the Blueprint, now inmates will have access to rehabilitative programs and can be cured. Even though the vast majority of prison inmates have already been on probation, served county jail terms, and participated in drug treatment programs on several prior occasions, somehow, some way the misalignment efforts will change everything. Inmates will be saying to themselves, “Drugs are bad? I’ll stop right away. I have been realigned. I’m cured.”
The improved inmate health care facility in Stockton will be able to magically repair inmates who have ravaged their bodies and minds through years of drug abuse and criminal activities. Even though studies have shown that prison inmates have lower rates of death in prison than in the community, they will now be able to live longer than law abiding citizens. At a cost of only a few billion dollars or more.
Mysteriously missing from all the charts on inmate population reductions are charts showing the realigned. How many? Where are they? What has become of them? The counties and cities are by now finding out what kind of bargain they got. Though crimes may increase in communities the prison system can slough off the crimes. They are off the books.
It appears, according to projections, there will be about 118,000 inmates in state prison each year from 2014 through 2017. Evidently there will be no increase in prison-type criminals over those years. Imagine that, crime will stand still. There will be a consistent “sustainable” inmate population. Even if the state population goes up, there will be no increase in crime. Or maybe the definition of “low-level offender” will change. More challenges for the counties.
The Blueprint report states up to 9 new prisons would have been needed to accommodate 31,500 inmates. This seems odd. Since many prisons can house 5-6000 inmates. The cost to build more prisons is pegged at $7.5 billion; maybe a bargain compared to the cost for the $60 billion + for a bullet train no one wants.
Rehabilitative programs that have not worked will all of a sudden work Even though inmates who have participated in drug treatment programs in the past came back to prison at a higher rate than those who did not participate; now programs will cure the inmates. “Skill building” for sex offenders will work wonders. Female criminals will stop committing crimes What a wonderful world it will be. California may end crime as we know it and close all of its prisons.
Inmate health care cost will be reduced through a “more robust utilization of management controls.” No telling what that means. The medical care system will become cost-effective and sustainable. I’ve seen lists of sustainable fish in some restaurants. Is that what they mean?
Civil addicts will find the prison doors closed; no longer welcome through the front door or gate turn-ins etc. Maybe they can get cured of their drug problems in the county jails.
The California Health Care Facility in Stockton will be open for business next year, “allowing the state to treat inmates in prison hospitals rather than costly community settings.” Is that different than what we did recently at San Quentin and other facilities?
According to the Blueprint report, dropping parole services is actually just an incentive for local communities to do a better job at prisoner re-entry and a Historic Opportunity to recreate state parole. How fortunate we all are. Parole staff with a 50% or so reduction can now ask community providers if they are willing to provide treatment to high-level offenders. Do we have to ask nicely or maybe provide more money for these magical services?
To help parolees the department will go out to bid for services formerly provided by the parole division. I’m sure we will get what we pay for. These probably aren’t the same community based providers associated with infant deaths in San Diego or parolee cage fights, etc.
State trial courts can handle the parole revocation process. According to the Blueprint Report the workload will not be a problem. Work will be decreasing for the courts. What a wonderful thing.
On page 47 of the Blueprint Report we finally find the departments core mission described, “to provide safe and effective custody and supervision of offenders, and rehabilitative services to prevent further criminal behavior upon release.” At least the first part of this “core mission” should’ve been at the front of the report. That’s not significant is it? Maybe the report should start out with “Once upon a time…” The conclusion would be, “They lived happily ever after.” Sadly, many people who spent years building up the various structures in the Department of Corrections now are forced to witness the dismantling of the house they helped build.
While the darkness settles in over the Department of Corrections, Cate The Dismantler and his Trained Seals can sing the refrain from an upbeat song I heard recently. Here are some key lyrics2; the last line can be repeated several times.
Screen falling off the door
Door hanging off the hinges
We tore up the walls
We rattled this house
This house is falling apart