Besides, the $1.2 billion in savings from reducing the prison population, as promised by Schwarzenegger and the Legislature, was never going to happen. The deal was based on the prison system reducing the inmate population by 27,300 inmates and saving an estimated $49,000 per year per prisoner. But the incremental savings for each discharged prisoner is expected to come in at about $22,000, according to state corrections spokesman Seth Unger.
Now, I'm not saying that the state should not try to reduce the number of people in prison. Sen. George Runner, R-Lancaster, introduced a bill that would allow GPS monitoring for qualified nonviolent offenders. Unger makes a strong case for reducing low-level parole violations, as there is "not much public safety benefit" in re-incarcerating people for terms of three or four months for a minor slip. Readmission entails expensive medical, dental and mental health tests. Bass supports reducing sentences for inmates who complete rehab programs.
One last note: It's true, California prisons are officially overcrowded and running at 190 percent capacity. But that's only because 100 percent capacity means one inmate per cell and single bunks in dormitories.
Now, I don't know many parents who are in a rush to free prisoners so that inmates can get their own room.