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California Budget Cuts Lead to Closure of Two Parolee Residential Centers

In a questionable effort to save money, the State of California has closed two parolee residential centers in Los Angeles and returned the 74 non-violent offenders housed at those facilities back to prison. Scott Kernan, undersecretary of the California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), justified the closures by noting that the centers, operated by Volunteers of America (VOA), had three dozen empty beds. He explained that the CDCR, ordered to cut $800 million from its budget, could no longer afford to fund a program that was not operating at full capacity. Kernan did not say why, if the prison system is at almost 200% of its population capacity the work release centers were empty.

While it is true that closing the centers will save the state $500,000 in contractual payments this year, the long-term wisdom of the decision is less certain. For example, it costs the state nearly twice as much ($97 per day) to house an of-fender in prison as it does to place the same prisoner in a VOA residential center ($50 per day). Further, VOA residents are employed, and one-third of their income is used to reimburse the state for housing and related costs. Another third of the offenders’ earnings is used to pay victim restitution.

Source: Los Angeles Times

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