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Experts Laud Schwarzenegger's Plan To Shift Prison Funds To Universities

Publication Date: 
January 07, 2010
The Sacramento Bee
Charles Piller

Professor Joan Petersilia is quoted in the Sacramento Bee on Governor Schwarzenegger's proposal to increase privatization of California prisons to reduce costs:

Prison, legal and financial experts generally praised Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to shift state prison funding to public universities, but said a constitutional amendment that ties the government's hands in perpetuity could cause more harm than good.

"The governor, some years ago, railed against autopilot budgeting," said Steve Boilard, director of higher education for the nonpartisan California Legislative Analyst's Office. "This is just another set of restrictions that may not make sense in future years."


Joan Petersilia, a leading prison expert and professor at Stanford Law School, said contracting out low-security prisoners to private prisons is a proven cost-saving measure. Currently, California sends about 8,000 of its approximately 170,000 inmates to private facilities in Mississippi, Oklahoma and Arizona.

"It's so cost effective because 70 percent of housing someone in a California prison is due to personnel costs, and our costs are higher in California," she said.