Lenore Anderson, a former assistant district attorney in San Francisco and executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice, is calling on California lawmakers to address the state’s bloated prisons budget in the wake of several criminal justice reforms. In an op-ed for The Sacramento Bee, Anderson highlights how Governor Jerry Brown has supported legislation in recent years. She points out that Brown’s support for bills like Proposition 57 for instance, is in stark contrast to the California Governor of 40 years ago.
Prop 57, you will remember, allows parole consideration for nonviolent felons and made changes in who decides whether a minor will be charged as an adult or not. The legislation also authorizes sentence credits for rehabilitation, good behavior, and education. Brown’s support for the bill is ironic considering that the laws passed during Brown’s first tenure in office – Anderson argues – are some of the direct causes of California’s enormous jail and prison populations.
This year, state lawmakers also passed legislation that did away with money bail and gave greater diversion possibilities for those living with mental illness who get arrested. Criminal justice reform is widely believed to be a step in the right direction, but Anderson notes that state expenditures on imprisonment have not changed.
More Money On Prison Than Education
California is a progressive state; however, we spend $12 billion on state prisons alone, according to the op-ed. Since 1981, there’s been a 500 percent increase in prison spending—more than any other budget item, including higher education. Anderson writes:
“But these expenditures do not align with what works to reduce crime. We know many of the drivers of crime: mental health crises, substance abuse, unaddressed trauma and housing and economic instability, especially when these factors are combined. Most of these factors are exacerbated by lengthy incarceration, not resolved by it.” She adds, “We should be investing in crisis assistance centers, in restorative justice and in programs that combine housing and treatment for chronically homeless people cycling in and out of both jails and emergency rooms.”
Orange County Criminal Defense
For more than three decades, Attorney Ronald G, Brower has provided clients with effective legal defense in Southern California. If you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge, please reach out to our office to arrange a consultation.