An assembly bill that would allow California Community Colleges to receive full funding for courses offered in correctional institutions, AB1271, has passed the Assembly Higher Education Committee with strong bipartisan support (12-1). According to Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), author of the bill.
“California has one of the highest recidivism rates in the country. Attorney General Kamala Harris has stated that two-thirds of released prisoners commit another crime within three years of release. Although these figures are alarming, we know that education is a key part of the solution to the problem,” said Bonta.
“Studies have shown that formerly incarcerated individuals who have participated in correctional education have a 43 percent reduced chance of recidivism,” he said. “Unfortunately, the correctional education budget has suffered severe cuts, and there is currently little to no incentive for our community colleges to teach 2courses to our inmates.
The community college districts have received devastating cuts in the past few years as well and cannot afford to teach courses for which they do not receive proper funding.”
In 2010-11, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) was subjected to an unallocated cut to its budget of $1.2 billion. As a result, CDCR reduced its internal funding for rehabilitative programs, including academic, vocational, substance abuse and other programs for inmates and parolees.
“By creating more incentives for California Community Colleges to provide courses and encourage attendance by our current prisoners, AB 1271 will decrease future incarceration costs by reducing recidivism, improve the employment potential of recently released prisoners, and increase the safety of the general public,” said Bonta.
Support for the bill includes: AFSCME, California School Employees Association, California State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and Community College League of California,
Assemblymember Bonta represents the 18th Assembly District, which includes Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro.