California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Report
(05/23/2012)

By Nick Warner, Managing Partner, Warner & Pank LLC, and Danielle Higgs, Legislative Representative/Business Consultant, Warner & Pank LLC

On April 24, 2012, CDCR released their report, titled: The Future of California Corrections: A Blueprint to Save Billions of Dollars, End Federal Court Oversight, and Improve the Prison System. You can access the report at: http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/

The report covers departmental changes that CDCR is looking to undertake as part of their efforts to streamline their operations, which they believe will save billions of dollars, reduce the prison population and help to meet court ordered population reductions and heath care standards.

Summary highlights:

Improve Inmate Classification System: Make adjustments to the thresholds between the security levels to enable the department to safely shift inmates to less costly housing where they can benefit from more access to rehabilitate programs. By 2015 the new regulations will be fully implemented and the department expects 9,500 male inmates will have moved from level IV to level III, and over 7,000 male inmates will have moved from level III to level II.

Return Out-of-State Inmates: Currently, there are more than 9,500 inmates in private prison facilities outside of California. The department proposes to bring these inmates back within 4 years as the prison population continues to drop, classification changes are made, and additional housing units are constructed as existing facilities.

Improve Access to Rehabilitation: Establish reentry hubs at certain prisons to concentrate program resources and better prepare inmates as they get closer to being released. It will also designate enhanced programming yards, which will incentivize positive behavior.

Standardize Staffing Levels: Establishes new and uniform staffing standards for each institution as a result of downsizing from realignment implementation.

Comply with Court Imposed Health Care Requirements: The California Health Care Facility in Stockton and the DeWitt Nelson Youth Correctional Facility, in conjunction with plans to increase medical clinical capacity at existing prisons, will satisfy court imposed requirements.

Satisfy the Supreme Court’s Order to Reduce Prison Crowding: The additional measures proposed in this plan will allow the state to see and obtain from the court a modification to raise the final benchmark to 145 percent of design capacity. Otherwise, alternatives such as continuing to house inmates out-of-state will have to be considered.

Other highlights from the report:

Contract Beds: This plan retains the existing 600 in-state contract beds and adds 1,225 in-state contract beds by December 2013.

Current Design Capacity: The housing plan includes the deactivation and closure of the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco by June 2016 due to its age, dilapidated conditions and high operating costs. Valley State Prison for Women will be converted to a level II male facility in the summer of 2013. Dormant beds at the Folsom Women’s Facility will be repurposed and activated in 2013 to provide supplemental capacity for female community-based options.

New Construction: The Administration is now proposing legislation to eliminate approximately $4.1 billion of the lease revenue bond authority in AB 900, avoiding an estimated $7.4 billion of future debt service payments. The remaining authority, approximately $1.9 billion, will be sufficient to complete the necessary capacity projects currently underway and the health care facility improvement program.

Infill Construction: The department is requesting $810 million of new lease revenue bond authority for the design and construct of three new level II dorm facilities at existing intermediate care prisons under the medical classification system. This request will be included as part of the spring update to the 2012-13 Governor’s Budget.

Contract Capacity: The department plans to eliminate out-of-state celled contract capacity by fiscal year 2015-16, resulting in the closure of four contract facilities and association monitoring costs. As the state begins to return inmates from out-of-state facilities, it will reestablish up to 1,225 additional modified community correctional facility beds.

AB 900: Local Jail Construction Funding Update

On March 9, 2012, the Corrections Standards Authority Board awarded the following counties conditional awards totaling $602,881,000.  The awards were divided amongst three categories:  Large, Medium and Small. 

The following counties were provided conditional awards:

Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange, Kern, Stanislaus, Tulare, Santa Barbara, Kings, Shasta, San Benito, Sutter, Madera, Imperial.

Kern, San Benito and Santa Barbara relinquished their Phase I and awards and will be receiving conditional awards totaling $171,348,000.  This will make the total Phase II awards $774,229,000.

Due to the budget crisis enveloping California over the last several years, Sheriffs have been concerned about their ability to operate the facilities once constructed.  With the operational costs as a main concern, the following counties are most likely to move forward with their projects and become operational:

Riverside, Orange, Stanislaus, Tulare (contingent on purchase of property), Santa Barbara, Monterey (in the event they receive full funding), Kings, Sutter, Madera, and Imperial (in the event they receive full funding).

Next steps, we are working to obtain Phase III funding. Other interested counties include:

San Mateo, Mendocino, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Merced, Plumas, and Fresno.

SB 81: Local Youthful Offender Rehabilitative Facilities Construction

Fourteen counties have been awarded state financing through SB 81, Statutes of 2007. The Corrections Standards Authority (CSA) is starting to see new interest by counties to initiate construction activity related to their projects.

In particular, San Clara, Riverside, Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Tuolumne and Yolo have taken the initiative with their projects. The next steps and timelines are contingent on the counties’ interest. All of them will need to complete real estate due diligence; receive approval for their project scope, cost and schedule; execute the contractual agreements; and have their projects established (recognized) by the state Public Works Board. Then they will need to complete design and construction drawings before the projects can be awarded interim financing from the Pooled Money Investment Board. 

Related Issues and Forecast

• Inmate Transfer – ability for county prisoners

• AB 900 Phase 3 for county jail construction (repair, renovation, reconstruction)

• Cap on long sentences

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