Report 2009-107.2 Highlights - May 2010

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation:

Inmates Sentenced Under the Three Strikes Law and a Small Number of Inmates Receiving Specialty Health Care Represent Significant Costs


Our review of California's increasing prison cost as a proportion of the state budget and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's (Corrections) operations revealed the following:

  • Inmates incarcerated under the three strikes law (striker inmates):
    • Make up 25 percent of the inmate population as of April 2009.
    • Receive sentences that are, on average, nine years longer-resulting in about $19.2 billion in additional costs over the duration of their incarceration.
    • Include many individuals currently convicted for an offense that is not a strike, were convicted of committing multiple serious or violent offenses on the same day, and some that committed strikeable offenses as a juvenile.
  • Inmate health care costs are significant to the cost of housing inmates. In fiscal year 2007-08, $529 million was incurred for contracted services by specialty health care providers. Additionally:
    • 30 percent of the inmates receiving such care cost more than $427 million.
    • The costs for the remaining 70 percent averaged just over $1,000 per inmate.
    • The costs for those inmates who died during the last quarter ranged from $150 for one inmate to more than $1 million for another
  • A significant portion of the increased workload due to medical guarding and transportation is covered through overtime.
  • The large leave balances of custody staff, to which the furlough program has contributed a significant amount, will eventually cost the State from $546 million to more than $1 billion.

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