Wednesday, March 07, 2007

California Scheming

Following up on my earlier and hasty post about today's developments in California, this Associated Press story caught my attention since it cuts so clearly against conventional wisdom regarding the policy preferences of prison employees (at least those who aren't employed as corrections officers).

The union representing teachers, cooks and nurses in the state prison system says overcrowding should be solved through rehabilitation and sentencing reform, not by building new prisons, as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would like to do.

The union, which represents the workers who staff rehabilitation programs, released a report saying Schwarzenegger's $11 billion building plan is too light on rehabilitation. It asserts the state cannot build its way out of the overcrowding crisis. Prisons are operating at nearly twice their capacity.

The report recommends placing more emphasis on providing education to inmates to reduce the likelihood that they will commit new offenses after leaving prison. It says 40 percent of inmates should be enrolled in training programs by 2011.

Schwarzenegger supports rehabilitation but says California needs to build more prisons soon to avoid the possibility that a federal judge will order prisoners to be released early to ease overcrowding.

This story describes in detail, yet again, the dimensions of California's current crisis.

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