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California Prison Officials Move To Overhaul System

Publication Date: 
April 23, 2012
The Sacramento Bee
Sam Stanton

Professor Joan Petersilia spoke with The Sacramento Bee's Sam Stanton on California's "unprecedented" pace in the downsizing of its prison system over the last six months.

Aided by a rapid decline in the state's inmate population, California prison officials are proposing a dramatic change in the way they do business and moving to take control of the system back from the federal courts.

In a plan announced Monday to close one prison, revamp others and scrap most of a $6 billion prison construction plan, officials say they will save the state billions of dollars in coming years.


"I think everybody is pretty astonished at the downsizing of California prisons, I don't think anybody thought it would happen this fast ...," said Joan Petersilia, a Stanford University law professor who has spent more than three decades studying prison issues.

"No state has ever seen a downsizing in prisons like we've had in the last six months in California. It really is unprecedented."