Prison Rehab Spending Slashed by $280 Million, Literacy, Drug Treatment and Vocational Programs Cut

Press Release September 16, 2009
Media Contact

Tommy McDonald at or Margaret Dooley-Sammuli at (213) 291 4190

SACRAMENTO — The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation today announced $280 million in cuts to rehabilitation programs for inmates and parolees, including shortening in-custody drug treatment to three months (from 6-36 months) and laying off as many as 800 teachers, librarians, counselors and other program staff. Advocates criticized the cuts, particularly to drug treatment, as counterproductive.

“Gutting programs that are proven to facilitate re-entry and increase public safety is deplorable and unnecessary. California could cut prison spending by one billion dollars a year by keeping petty drug offenders at the county level and making drug treatment more available,” said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, deputy state director for the Drug Policy Alliance in Southern California. “Instead, Sacramento has decided to continue spending $49,000 a year to keep petty drug offenders in state prison — where few, if any, will have access to drug treatment. Where’s the sense in that?”

The Legislature and governor approved $1.2 billion in unallocated cuts to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in late July. On September 11, the Legislature sent to the governor a bill that would realize just $200-300 million in cuts. With today’s announcement, the governor and the CDCR have made a controversial first step toward cutting the remaining $1 billion.

“Other states are successfully finding those offenders who can safely be housed in the community and turn their lives around with treatment and services, while California continues to utilize costly incarceration for low-end offenders,” said Jeanne Woodford, former director of the California Department of Corrections and former warden of San Quentin. “This strategy leaves us without the resources to bring meaningful programs and treatment to high end offenders in our prison.”

“We are not going to make California safer by cutting funding for education, drug treatment and vocational training behind bars. Sacramento is suggesting that we can have either public safety or rehabilitation programs, when in fact these things are inseparable,” Dooley-Sammuli continued.

# # #

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

Sign up for updates from DPA.