California has faced the most acute and high profile prison crises of perhaps any state, including federal court orders requiring the state to reduce overcrowding and effectively taking over the state’s inmate health care system. Many states can learn from the California experience and take pro-active steps to avoid federal court intervention that removes the issue from the democratic process and can impose costs beyond the ability of policymakers to manage.

California is also known for the fact that it spends $46,000 per prison inmate compared with $18,000 spent by Texas, but has a substantially higher re-incarceration rate than the Lone Star State.1 One major reason for the difference in cost is that California, which unlike Texas, has collective bargaining for state corrections workers and pays its prison guards about twice what Texas does.2 In fact, some California corrections officers make in excess of $100,000.3 In recent years, California’s powerful prison guard union has lobbied against corrections reforms.4

Nonetheless, facing a court overcrowding order to either release inmates or create more capacity, the state finally began adopting significant reforms in 2009 under the leadership of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. First, performance-based probation funding was unanimously passed.  Under the California Community Corrections Performance Incentive Act of 2009 (SB678), half of the future state savings on prisons from fewer probation revocations are sent back to counties that produced the savings.  Second, geriatric parole legislation signed in September 2010 was estimated to possibly save the state as much as $200 million a year.5

In an October 26, 2010 article, the Merced Sun Star noted:“Few accused California Govs. Ronald Reagan or George Deukmejian of being “soft on crime…During Reagan’s tenure, the number of prisoners per 100,000 Californians was 121; during Deukmejian’s tenure, it was 230. Last year, it was 436.”6

Governor Schwarzenegger declared in 2004: “”Our prison population now is more than 167,000 people and still growing year after year. If we imprisoned people at 1994 rates, we’d have 145,000 prisoners. That is a doable goal. Our sentencing rules have doubled the number of aging prisoners in just 10 years. We’ve now got more than 16,000 prisoners over the age of 50. We’re going to turn the tide of increased prison population. We’re going to show that California can reduce crime and downsize our prison system.”

Now, California policymakers must build on the recent policy advances to overcome decades of failure and turn the corrections tide in favor of taxpayers and public safety.

“Let’s be smart on crime”

Right on Crime | May 1, 2014
“These principles of being smart on crime find roots from the group Right on Crime. Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas have utilized the principles of quality reentry programs to promote…

SF Gate: “Texas Gov. Rick Perry hearts California”

Right on Crime | March 19, 2014
The SFGate on Governor Perry getting more “California-ized” as he discusses ‘right on crime’ policies.

SFGate: “Texas an unlikely model for prison reform”

Right on Crime | February 24, 2014
Democratic California Senator Loni Hancock praises Texas for its conservative criminal justice reforms. “Texas is investing in alternatives to incarceration that are proving to be cheaper and more effective…

Texas vs. California

Right on Crime | February 7, 2014
From Reason.com: While the California system is bursting at its seams, Texas has closed three prisons. Both states have crime rates that are lower than they had been decades…

Chuck DeVore on the Phil Cowan Show

Right on Crime | February 5, 2014
Chuck DeVore shares how Texas reduced its incarceration rate while simultaneously reducing spending — and what California can learn from the Lone Star State.

Chuck DeVore on “The Jesse Lee Peterson Radio Show”

Right on Crime | February 4, 2014
Reverend Peterson hosts TPPF’s VP of Policy Chuck DeVore on his nationally syndicated radio “The Jesse Lee Peterson Show” to talk about prison reform.

Human Events: No crime for California to learn from Texas

Right on Crime | February 3, 2014
This article by Human Events relays the importance of the bipartisan prison reform policies advocated by Right On Crime and Chuck DeVore during his testimony before California’s Committee on…

Watch Chuck DeVore testify before California’s Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee

Right on Crime | January 31, 2014
The Golden State to get right on crime? Chuck DeVore testifies before the California's Committee on Budget & Fiscal Review. Read more

Orange County Register: What does Texas know about prisons that we don’t?

Right on Crime | January 31, 2014
In lieu of Chuck DeVore’s testimony in California on the topic of realignment, Democratic Senator Mark Leno and committee chairman, acknowledged that his state’s  criminal justice system needs improvement.…

Chuck DeVore on the John Phillips Show

Right on Crime | January 31, 2014
John Phillips hosts Chuck DeVore as he talks about his testimony before California’s Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review.

Chuck DeVore discusses CA reforms with the LaDona Harvey Show

Right on Crime | January 31, 2014
Following his testimony before California’s Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review, Chuck DeVore sat down with KOGO’s LaDona Harvey out of San Digeo to reiterate the prison reform successes…

TPPF VP of Policy to testify before California’s Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review

Right on Crime | January 30, 2014
Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Vice President of Policy Chuck DeVore will testify before California’s Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review on January 30, 2014 at 9:30 a.m. Pacific Time.…
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