Harris, Emily


CDCR’s “Future of California Corrections” Far-Reaching But Not Far Enough

By Emily Harris
Californians United for a Responsible Budget

If the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) public relations are successful, people across the state are thinking that the CDCR has finally got the message: our prison system is too big, too expensive, and locks up way too many people.

 Last week, the CDCR released a master plan for the state’s prison system, ambitiously called “The Future of California’s Corrections,” that was touted as an outline of drastic shifts in how CDCR will operate the prison system to reduce its size and budget impacts. A closer look reveals a few positive changes and a lot more business as usual.

Stopping Prison Construction Important First Step: More Reductions in Corrections Spending Needed to Protect Social Services

By Emily Harris
Californians United for a Responsible Budget

Governor Brown’s surprised Californians by unveiling his 2012-13 budget five days early on January 5th. The Budget has Californians calling for additional cuts to the corrections budget to prevent even further slashing of welfare, childcare, health care, education, and job opportunities. The 2012-2013 proposal, which includes $8.887 billion in General Fund spending for Corrections, comes the same week as severe trigger cuts from last year’s budget and just days before 25 Counties are due to submit funding requests to build $602 million worth of jails across the state.

If Realignment Is an Opportunity Let's Not Waste It On Building Costly Jail Beds

By Emily Harris

Californians United for a Responsible Budget 

November 17th's "California's Prison System - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly” conference, organized by Capitol Weekly and the University of California, brought together experts, advocates, and law enforcement and highlighted the devastating impacts of the expansion of California's prison system and consequent shift in state spending on education and social services. Conversations at the conference brought into sharper focus why California can't risk falling into the familiar pattern of failed corrections policies as it realigns public safety.

It has been seven months since the Supreme Court ordered California to drastically reduce the state's prison population. Beginning Oct. 1, responsibility for low-level prisoners was transferred from state prisons to counties. While politicians and pundits called the move unprecedented, many counties drafted ill-conceived plans that simply shift overcrowding from the state level prisons to already crowded county jails.

California Should Lead Nation and Stop Building New Prisons and Jails

By Emily Harris and Isaac Ontiveros

Across the country, headlines show a new trend of nationwide prison closure. A recent report by the Sentencing Project notes that, to date, 13 states in the US have closed or are considering closing some of their correctional facilities, reversing a 40-year trend of prison expansion. States initiating prison closures include New York, Texas, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Michigan, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin. Michigan, for example, has closed 21 facilities and has prioritized re-entry services for people returning to their communities from prison.