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California Prisoner-Pay Deductions for Aiding Crime Victims Distributed to Victim Organizations

California Prisoner-Pay Deductions for Aiding Crime Victims Distributed to Victim Organizations

In December 2008, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) Prison Industry Authority distributed $131,343 collected from prisoner workers’ pay to twelve crime victims organizations. The money, amounting to 20% of the net wages earned in Joint Venture programs within CDCR, was doled out in amounts ranging from $3,010 to $17,632.

The Joint Venture program was created in 1990 when Proposition 139 (“Inmate Labor Initiative”) was passed by the voters. Prop 139 authorized private companies to set up businesses on prison grounds to employ prisoners at comparable market wages. The prisoners’ after-tax “earnings were divided to pay 20% each towards (1) restitution orders (or the victims fund), (2) family support, (3) incarceration costs, (4) a mandatory prison-administered savings account for the prisoner upon release and (5) the prisoner’s current use.

It is from the portion withheld for victims that the $131,343 accrued. The organizations receiving the current distribution were: Community Action Partnership of Madera County ($35,264); James Rowland Crime Victim Assistance Center ($17,632); Merced County District Attorney Victim/Witness Assistance ($17,632); Lassen County Victim/Witness Assistance Center ($3,010); Sunny Hills ($10,851); Marin Abused Women’s Services ($10,851); Bay Area Women Against Rape ($14,468); Project Sister ($4,876); City of Chino/New Directions Violence Program ($4,876)’;’ San Joaquin County Victim/Witness Assistance Center ($3,959); Women’s Center of San Joaquin County ($3,959); and HRC Calaveras, Crisis Center ($3,959).

But before individual victims see one penny, if they ever do, the distribution first passes through the recipient victims’ organizations and their overhead charges. Also unclear is whether “witness assistance” funding involves witness reward programs or personal payments to victims.


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