Schwarzenegger seeks to overhaul
California prison system
By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service
December 27, 2006
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled a plan yesterday that would
add thousands more beds to the state's prison system as well as
local jails and juvenile detention facilities.
The nearly $11 billion plan would address what Schwarzenegger
calls a "dangerous prison overcrowding crisis" and would
be funded mostly through bonds and partly through the state's
His plan would call on the legislature to approve an expansion
throughout the state to accommodate nearly 78,000 prisoners.
The governor's proposal also calls for the creation of a sentencing
commission and implementation of the controversial Jessica's Law,
a sexual offender tracking system approved by voters in November.
"Public safety is my highest priority and my administration
will continue to address California's prison crisis while ensuring
that dangerous criminals do not pose a threat to our families
or communities," Schwarzenegger said in a statement.
"After decades of neglect as our state's population has
dramatically expanded, our prison system desperately needs to
The plan calls for additional housing for inmates at the state
and local level. Specifically, the governor is calling for half
of the funds to go towards providing 45,000 new beds for local
jails and 5,000 beds to be provided for juvenile offenders.
A majority of the remaining funds would go to building enough
space in existing prisons to accommodate over 16,000 inmates.
The funding would also go towards modernizing San Quentin's "death
row" and building a new training facility for prison guards.
The governor also plans to update the prison's health facilities
with a $1 billion improvement project.
Millions of dollars would also be poured into the state's new
"sexual predator" tracking system. The money would go
towards evaluating repeat and high-risk sex offenders and providing
the global positioning equipment necessary for tracking them.
Schwarzenegger also proposed a sentencing commission, which would
propose changes to the state's sentencing guidelines and parole
system to, in theory, prevent violent and repeat criminals from
being released without oversight while nonviolent offenders serve
According to Schwarzenegger, providing more space for inmates
would allow prisons to use classrooms, gyms and workshops for
what they were meant for instead of makeshift dormitories.
"I am looking forward to working with my partners in the
legislature, crime victims, law enforcement groups and correctional
officers to bring lasting change to California's prison system,"
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