Page, Joshua

Joshua Page is an assistant professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of the new book The Toughest Beat: Politics, Punishment, and the Prison Officers Union in California (Oxford University Press). For information about The Toughest Beat, visit

Cutting Corrections and Helping Officers

By Joshua Page

California’s prisons provide an apt metaphor for the state’s broken politics. Almost everyone knows the $10 billion correctional system is unsustainable and must be cut, and yet the issue is so controlled by vested interests that nothing much changes. It’s a case study in how political disengagement – the “why bother” syndrome that afflicts Californians when confronted with any number of daunting issues – tends to carry the day.

Contracting the prison population requires shortening prison and parole terms, increasing alternatives to imprisonment, and reserving costly prison beds for the most serious offenders. Sophisticated research and the recent experiences of other states (like New York, which decreased its prison population by 20 percent) show that these measures can be implemented without jeopardizing public safety.

Prison Officers, Crime Victims, and the Prospects of Sentencing Reform

By Joshua Page

California’s correctional crisis is now the status quo. But the status quo is unsustainable. Nearly $27 billion in the red, the state simply can’t afford business as usual. The annual budget for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is about $10 billion (7% of the state’s total expenditures), up from $3.5 billion in 1998.  Along with being prohibitively expensive, the prison system is so overcrowded that a panel of federal judges ruled in 2009 that the state must shed approximately 40,000 inmates (the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide any day now whether the original ruling will stand).