Gramlich, John

In An Era of One-Party Rule, Republicans Pass a Sweeping State Agenda

By John Gramlich
Stateline Staff Writer

Republicans controlled all the levers of government in a staggering number of states this year — and it showed.

Holding a lock on the governorship and both houses of the legislature in 20 states, GOP conservatives advanced an agenda that may change the face of state government for decades. They honored pledges not to raise taxes by enacting huge spending cuts to balance budgets in Florida and Texas. They put tough abortion limits back on the agenda, passing laws in Alabama, Kansas and Oklahoma. Most famously, Republicans in Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin put new restrictions on the rights of public employees, whose protests made national news for a month.

California Shrinks Its Prisons, But Overcrowding Persists

By John Gramlich

VACAVILLE, Calif. — Eighteen months ago, the gymnasium at the state prison here was not a gymnasium at all. It was a makeshift dormitory, housing 250 felons in triple bunk beds stretching from one end of the concrete floor to the other.

Correctional officers recall a tense, dangerous environment. Violent offenders, many of them sentenced to decades behind bars for assault, murder and other serious crimes, slept within inches of one another. Tempers rose often, especially during the sweltering summertime months. Fights were common.

Today, the gymnasium at the California State Prison at Solano houses no one. Triple bunking has ended. Instead, this medium-security prison is shedding inmates, with a decline of more than 1,000 offenders over the last year and a half.