A three-judge panel granted California a two-year extension last week to comply with a federal order to reduce prison overcrowding.
The current state budget sets aside 315 million dollars for that purpose. Governor Brown’s budget proposal for the next fiscal year adds another 400 million to prison population reduction.
H.D. Palmer with the governor's Department of Finance says the money would have been spent differently had the court not granted the extension.
“Then the money we are providing for such things as mental health, substance abuse disorder, re-entry programs, we would have had to have spent that money to acquire additional out-of-state capacity to house inmates,” says Palmer.
Meanwhile, a recent study from the non-profit watchdog group, the California Budget Project, says prison spending is up about one billion dollars over what it was two years ago. It went mainly to guard salaries and housing inmates.
Hearings are being held on the last of four challenges to how California treats mentally ill prisoners.
California has been given a bit more time to negotiate with plaintiffs in a lawsuit over prison overcrowding.
A federal judged ruled that California needs to improve its treatment of mentally ill inmates on death row, but gave state officials flexibility on how to solve the issue.