Californians have grown accustomed over the years to massively overpaying for public services and infrastructure projects. In fact, one has to look no further than Jerry Brown's two largest, ongoing pet projects, including the infamous 'High Speed Rail' and 'Delta Tunnels', for a couple of examples of California's complete obsession with wasting taxpayer money.
That said, the cost of providing the best healthcare money can buy and luxurious accommodations to the state's 130,000 prisoners is starting to move beyond outrageous, even by California standards. As the AP points out today, Jerry Brown's new budget allocates a staggering $75,560 to cover the cost of housing each resident of California's state prison system for a single year.
The spending plan includes a record $11.4 billion for the corrections department while also predicting that there will be 11,500 fewer inmates in four years after voters in November approved earlier releases for many prisoners.
In November 2016, Proposition 57 (The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act) was passed by voter initiative. The proposition: 1) increases the number of non-violent inmates eligible for parole consideration and allows parole consideration after serving the full term of the sentence for their primary offense; 2) authorizes CDCR to award sentence credits for rehabilitation, good behavior, or educational achievements; and 3) provides juvenile court judges authority to decide whether juveniles aged 14 and older should be sentenced as adults for specified offenses.
Since 2015, California’s per-inmate costs have surged nearly $10,000, or about 13%, pushing New York to a distant second in overall costs at about $69,000.
But, if you're a taxpaying resident of California, don't worry because the California Budget and Policy Center has figured out the problem...
“Now that we’re incarcerating less, we haven’t ramped the system back down,” said Chris Hoene, executive director of the left-leaning California Budget & Policy Center.
For example, the corrections department has one employee for every two inmates, compared with one employee for roughly every four inmates in 1994.
...apparently they let a bunch of people out of prison early but just 'forgot' to cut back the number of massively overpaid prison guards they employ.
The California Correctional Peace Officers Association is in the middle of a contract that will cost taxpayers more than $1 billion over three years.
California’s average $70,020 wage for prison and jail guards was topped only by New Jersey’s $71,430 last year, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Palmer said the contract includes concessions that Brown sought to help reduce the state’s long-term costs of providing retirees’ health care benefits.
But the contract also includes sweeteners like more money for working in remote prisons. And what had been a $1,560 annual incentive for remaining physically fit now goes directly into officers’ base pay.
On the upside, a shrinking prison population means a lot of potential state employees to build that high speed rail project...assuming California is willing to provide the same level of healthcare coverage to its employees that prison inmates have become accustomed to.