New Report Shows California Prisons Still Overcrowded

Photo: Monica Almeida

Photo: Monica Almeida

Wednesday December 19, 2018A new report released this week shows California prisons are still overcrowded and currently at 134.7% of capacity. Four prisons — Wasco, Corcoran, Solano, and Valley State Prison — were near 160% of capacity or even greater.

The public isn’t happy about these crowded and inhumane conditions. California voters have overwhelmingly passed prison reform measures — e.g. Proposition 57 in 2016 — which were designed to help ease the crowded conditions by helping nonviolent offenders seek early parole. Unfortunately, the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) have been stalling on implementation of Prop 57, leading state Superior Courts to issue rulings in favor of inmates seeking release and against the CDCR.

Conditions in California’s overcrowded prisons are so bad that they violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, according to a Supreme Court ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court, in its decision, described a prison system that failed to deliver minimal care to prisoners with serious medical and mental health problems and produced “needless suffering and death.”

In fact, suicide rates in California prisons are 80 percent higher than the average for inmates nationwide. An inmate in one of California’s prisons needlessly dies every six or seven days due to constitutional deficiencies.

How You Can Help

Unite the People, in partnership with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, will begin gathering signatures in December 2019 (projected start date) for our proposed ballot proposition, The People’s Fair Sentencing and Public Safety Act. Our objective is to gather the necessary 820,000 signatures to qualify our measure for the November 2020 ballot by June of 2020. When passed, The People’s Fair Sentencing Act will modify the “three strikes” law to only apply to violent crimes, and require that the state immediately release or re-sentence nonviolent offenders. Here’s how you can help:

Judson ParkerComment