For Immediate Release

Calls mount for Governor Newsom to include a concrete plan to close more prisons in this summer’s enacted budget

SACRAMENTO, CA––Today, Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) released the following statement in response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s May Revise of the 2022-23 budget:

The 2022-23 May Revision introduces new language on prison closure, stating:

“Based on current projections that exhibit ongoing declines in the incarcerated population, and understanding that future policy changes may significantly affect long-range population projections, it may be possible to close three additional state prisons by 2024-25.”

This is a small but substantive victory for thousands of Californians who have contacted Governor Newsom and state legislators demanding more prison closures and community investment as part of any blueprint for a stronger California.

The united campaign to Close California Prisons applauds this positive step forward, but it doesn’t go far enough. The “possibility” for more prison closures is well-established. In 2020, the state’s own Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) calculated that it would be possible to shut at least five 5 prisons in California, saving $1.5 billion per year by 2025. What we need from Governor Newsom is a firm commitment to doing so.

Our state budget is a moral document that should include a positive vision for the future. While committing to close at least three additional prisons would be a powerful first step, since January 2022, over 5,795 people have signed the Color of Change petition calling for at least eight more prisons to be closed over the next three years.

On Wednesday, May 11th, community leaders from across California gathered outside the State Capitol Building to demand:.

  • A smart, concrete plan for closing more prisons must appear in the enacted 2022-23 budget this summer, as well as an end to The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) infrastructure spending spree

  • Continued reductions to the state prison population, and an end to new “tough on crime” spending on police and prosecutors. This political posturing masquerading as public safety is threatening to reverse our progress.

  • A shift in resources away from bloated prison budgets and toward positive investments in: 1) community-based care and living wage jobs, centering the needs of marginalized people across the state and 2) towns where prisons will close.

Governor Newsom, the legislature, and those advocating for rights of incarcerated people deserve an enormous amount of credit. In a victory for common sense, racial justice, and public health, prison populations in California continue to decline. Planned closures in The Department of Juvenile Justice go far in demonstrating the administration’s resolve. However, the 2022-23 proposed California state budget allocates nearly $18.7 billion in carceral spending, up from $13.5 billion just five years ago.

Why is corrections spending increasing when our reliance on incarceration as a tool to address social problems is diminishing? This spending is irresponsible and out of step with the values of the vast majority of Californians. Closing more prisons in California will be a historic accomplishment for the current administration, powerfully impacting the state’s ongoing incarceration crisis.

The state of California is swimming in unexpected money while marginalized communities drown. Rather than fully directing this surplus to support people most in need, the state budget is poised to give tax breaks to rich people and corporations who have seen record profits during the global pandemic.

California’s own Penal Code affirms that “criminal justice policies that rely on building and operating more prisons to address community safety concerns are not sustainable, and will not result in improved public safety.” Prisons don’t keep people safe. We need holistic, transformative interventions when harm and violence happen; prisons have proven to be an ineffective form of intervention. So have programs like the administration’s ill-conceived “CARE Court,” which would criminalize homelessness and mental illness throughout the state, and the ongoing expansion of Probation-led “pretrial services” programs.

Incarceration fails to solve the root causes of the issues we must collectively address, like deadly anti Black racism and systemic inequality. It is our obligation as residents of this great state to find a better way.

––CURB and The #CloseCAPrisons Campaign
Coming Soon: CURB’s 2022-23 Overview of The State Corrections Budget


More Resources:

  • CURB–The People’s Plan for Prison Closure and January’s 2022-23 Budget Overview
  • Sacramento Bee–California could close three more state prisons, Gavin Newsom’s budget says
  • Los Angeles Times––Op-Ed: When a prison closes, its town has a shot at redemption
  • The Intercept––Dark, Smoky Cells: Wildfires Threaten More Prisons…
  • Blavity––The New Jim Crow Is Alive And Well In This California Town And Its Prison
  • Truthout––Don’t Just “Close” Prisons — Demolish Them and Reinvest Their Funding
  • Bolts––A Future For Susanville