Voters agree with Gov. Brown’s plan to transfer low-risk state inmates to local jails in order to comply with the recent Supreme Court ruling on overcrowding in state prisons. However, they don’t want to pay any extra taxes to do it. They also overwhelmingly say that the current Three Strikes law should be amended to give judges more leeway in sentencing, as this could ease prison overcrowding. These findings come from a Field Poll released on June 16.
The US Supreme Court, after years of lawsuits and appeals, said California state prisons are so overcrowded that they are unconstitutional, provide substandard health care, and are hazardous to guards as well as inmates. They ordered that the inmate population be reduced by 30,000 within two years. However, as is often true with federal government mandates and court decisions, funding the cost was left to the state. Gov. Brown wants to raise taxes or extend current increases to pay for this, but voters oppose both plans. Republicans, Democrats and Independents all oppose a tax hike while Republicans and Independents also oppose extending tax increases, something Democrats favor. But taken as a whole, voters oppose extending tax increases 48-44.
The thinking here is muddled. If the state doesn’t pay for transferring the inmates, then the municipalities will. This cost will surely be passed onto taxpayers one way or another. So if taxpayers manage to avoid new state levies to pay for the transfers, they will end up paying for them on the local level anyway. You can’t relocate and then house 30,000 inmates without someone paying for it. Ultimately the cost will be paid by taxpayers.