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Lassen County Times
Susanville, California
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May 1, 2007     Lassen County Times
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May 1, 2007
 

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Lassen County Times Tuesday, May 1, 2007 3A,: By Sam Williams News Editor swilliams@lassennews.com Historic prison reform comes to California -- but a comprehensive prison reform bill passed by the California legislature on Wednesday, April 25 may have little impact on the State and local penal institutions in Susanville. The bill, praised by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and State Senator Dave Cox, provides $7.7 billion in funding to add more than 53,000 new jail and prison beds and a variety of programs designed to help reduce recidivism in 'two phases. The legislation is funded by $7.4 billion in bonds and $350 million from the general fund. Phase" I is funded by a $3.6 billon bond. Phase II is funded by a $2.5 billion bond that must be enacted by 2014. Local match- es of 25 percent, approximate- ly $300 ' million, can be used for local jails. Th~ state will contribute an additional $350 million from the general fund. $300 million for infrastruc- ture and $50 million for reha- bilitation. The local jail program would utilize $1.2 billion to add 13,000 beds. "For the first time in a decade, we can add prison beds in California," Schwarzenegger said, "and that does not just include tra- ditional beds. We will add beds with programs, educa- tion, drug and mental health treatment so that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation can truly live up to the rehabilitation part of its name." "Today, the legislature sent the governor a prison reform package to address the state's overcrowding crisis," Cox said. "It is clear that we need- ed reforms in California's correctional system. We need more beds to avoid letting dangerous criminals out on fife'st I;eet sre~rtl-Y~f s l~ackage is a compvbh~ise plan that upholds my commitment to making public safety a top priority by adding 53,000 new beds to the state prisons and local jails While I do not like everything in the com- promise measure, I am satis- fied that it has the funding for local communities, and more importantly, to protect public safety." All Work Guaranteed/ Local prison impact While this legislation may have sweeping statewide impacts, Lassen County's cor- rectional facilities may not change very much. Charles Bolls, public infor- mation officer and adminis- trative assistant at High Desert State Prison, said it was too early to tell how the prison reform legislation would affect his institution. "I don't see anything hap- pening in the near future," Boils said. "Ws too early to know how it's going to affect the prison. It's so far down the road, we just don't know." Lt. Mike Pingree, public information officer and administrative assistant at Susanville's California Correctional Center, said he had "no idea at this time" how the legislation would affect the institution because the project was still in its "infancy stage." He said CCC didn't know what it was going to do in response to the legislation. The overcrowding problems are not as severe at CCC as they are at HDSP. According to Pingree, "the legislation offers a two- pronged approach to California's prison over- crowding problem. First, the legislation pro- vides much needed.additional beds to better house the inmates. Then the .institution can provide more rehabilitation services to the inmates. "It's hard to have a rehabil- itation program when there's so much overcrowding," Pingree said. "Hopefully, recidivism won't be so high in the future." Local jail impact Lassen County Sheriff - Steve Warren praised the leg- islature for its efforts, but he said he doesn't think the reform is a very good fit for our county. "This was my first experi- ence talking to these people in Sacramento," Warren said. "They listened, and they lis- tened quickly. I was very impressed." Through his involvement with the state sheriff's associ- ation, Warren said he talked with legislators and asked them to give each county the right to decide if it wanted to participate in the local options. He said he's not very inter- ested in taking advantage of the state's proposal. "Our jail was completed in 1991, so we've still got one of the new.est jarls in the state," Warren said. "It's been around for 16 years, and it was designed on a 20-year plan. Former sheriff Ran Jarrell did a good job plan- ning the jail." War~h's' obje'ct~off' t'o~: the legislation is that while it pro- vides some funding for con- struction of new local jail facilities, the legislation does- n't provide and funding for on-going costs associated with the operation of the new facilities. Part of the original propos- al provided those sentenced to less than three years in prison could serve their sen- tences in a local jail. Warren said he convinced legislators to eliminate that provision of the bill. "Why would we be interest- ed in running a prison?" Warren asked. "It doesn't make much sense unless you're just trying to build an Watch for your name -Congratulations: -- David Briekee of Janesville You have won 2 FREE passes to Sierra Theatre or Uptown Cinema You have 7 days from this publica- tion to stop by the Lassen County Times at 100 Grand Avenue and pick them up. Winners are picked at random from the Times mailing list. OWNER-BUILDER HOME PACKAGES Featured Home Plan Pdost Coet Effl ~ Method of ~ 32 Remmibla Qt~ Consl~o, in a Con~led F.mfmmmt Custom Ik, r.e I~.kali= Shoder ~ Time Frame CWkm Plans Re~l I~w~lin~ h~ Ind~t ~ ~tom Laml/HNw FimmClql empire. I don't see there's much benefit to us." While that's the sheriff's first reaction, he said his opinion may change as more details about the legislation become available. '~ lot of things are still shaking out," Warren said, "and when they do, the jail commander and I will take a hard look and see if it's some- thing we want to jump onto." Warren, who served as the jail Commander for many years before his tenure as sheriff, said there's no need for additional beds at the local jail, but there is a need for different types of beds. "We have two types of beds in our segregated unit and.~ our dorm unit," Warren said.', "We need more beds in seg-, regated housing and fewer" beds in the dorm room. This proposal doesn't help us." 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