The Bee's July 30 editorial "Pols ignored the signs of growing prison crisis" (Page B-4) accurately describes the fact that California's prison crisis grew for many years without adequate attention from state lawmakers. Unfortunately, it fails to recognize that Gov. Schwarzenegger's efforts this year culminated in the most comprehensive prison reform package this state has ever seen.
These reforms are much more than just another building plan. They relieve short-term overcrowding by temporarily transferring inmates out of state, and expand capacity inside of existing prisons. The centerpiece is a fundamental shift toward effective rehabilitation to reduce the 70 percent recidivism rate of offenders cycling in and out of prison.
Key components are new parole reforms and re-entry facilities to provide drug treatment and vocational training, assess the risks and needs of offenders and prepare citizens to return home. The plan acknowledges that when offenders succeed in life, we have safer streets and fewer victims.
The governor has taken immediate steps to address the overcrowding crisis. However, these fixes won't work overnight. The state is working overtime to protect public safety and avoid any court-ordered release of inmates who have not served their time while these critical reforms are implemented.
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JAMES E. TILTON
secretary, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation