Gov. Newsom Wants to Close One State Prison

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Gov. Gavin Newsom said earlier this month that he wants to close at least one state pris­on in California – where there is a disproportionate number of African Americans serving sentences in the state peniten­tiary system. The Department of Correction and Rehabilita­tion costs taxpayers more than $15 billion a year.

Although African Ameri­cans only make up about 5.6% of California’s population, Black prisoners account for more than 28% of all inmates in state prison.

The governor has neither decided which prison he wants to close nor spelled out how he would go about doing it – tak­ing into account jobs, other local concerns, sentence re­ductions, etc., – but he says the issue is “personal” to him.

“I would like to see, in my lifetime and hopefully my ten­ure, that we shut down a state prison,” he said. “But you can’t do that flippantly. And you can’t do that without the sup­port of the unions, support of these communities, the staff, and that requires an alternative that can meet everyone’s needs and desires.”

Moving California away from over-focusing on pun­ishment to strengthening pre­vention programs, as well as providing rehabilitation and re-integration assistance for formerly incarcerated people, is his priority, said Newsom.

The state is investing $20 million in the 2019-20 budget to help formerly incarcerated people successfully re-inte­grate into their communities through the California Com­munity Reinvestment Grant program.

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