By Shaun Rundle, Legislative & Region Affairs Representative.
Last November, Proposition 57 was passed by the voters by nearly 64%. Dubbed the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016, the measure institutes credit-earning programs for prison inmates and allows for parole consideration for non-violent inmates who have served the full sentence of their primary offense. These “non-violent” crimes, however, that inmates could have in their past include domestic violence, rape, arson, and assault with a deadly weapon. Last July the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) opened a 45-day comment period for input into the regulations recommended to implement Prop 57.
As CDCR is currently under a Federal court-ordered prison population cap of 137.5 percent of design capacity, they have used a variety of measures, including adding new bed and programming space and building the new California Health Care Facility in Stockton. As of mid-March, CDCR was about 1,500 inmates below the cap.
The credit earning programs are being rolled out as incentives for inmates to improve their lives through education, career training and rehabilitation. Here is a breakdown of credit earning:
Good Conduct Credits
- Inmates currently earn Good Conduct Credits if they comply with prison rules and perform duties as assigned.
- Proposition 57 increases the amount of Good Conduct Credits inmates can earn.
Milestone Completion Credits
- Inmates can earn Milestone Completion Credits when they complete a specific education or career training program that has attendance and performance requirements.
- Proposition 57 increases the amount of time inmates can earn for Milestone Completion Credits from 6 weeks per year to 12 weeks.
Rehabilitative Achievement Credits (RAC)
- Inmates can earn Rehabilitative Achievement Credits when they participate in approved self-help groups or other activities which promote the rehabilitation or positive change in behavior of inmates.
- Inmates can earn up to 4 weeks of credit per year.
Educational Merit Credits (EMC)
- Inmates can earn Educational Merit Credits for successful completion while incarcerated, of a GED, high school diploma, college degree or alcohol and drug counselor certification.
- A one-time credit is awarded for each level of educational achievement earned during the inmate’s current term.
In the Spring, CPOA board members and staff met with Secretary Kernan and CDCR staff about the proposed regulations, and expressed a desire for an inmate’s entire rap sheet to be considered when potentially granting parole, as well as various crimes that are now considered “non-violent.” CDCR continues to hold stakeholder meetings with CPOA, and we enjoy a great working relationship.
The public hearing on the regulations will be held on September 1st from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. at the Department of Water Resources Auditorium, 1416 Ninth Street in Sacramento. More information on the hearing and Prop 57 data can be found here: http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/proposition57/.