California is a state in financial crisis. California also has the largest prison population in the country, after unprecedented growth in the past two decades. And California’s cost per inmate is $45,045 compared to the national average of $28,689. This makes California’s correctional system one of the biggest drains on the state budget.
Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages survey shows California is the highest-paying state for correctional officers, employing 40,260 of them in 2008 at an annual mean wage of $63,230, which works out to about $5,270 per month or $30.40 per hour. The national mean salary for correctional officers is $41,340, or $19.88 per hour.
There was a really good opportunity recently to cut back on California’s prison costs through Prop 5, which would have reduced the numbers of specifically non-violent drug offenders in prison. This was defeated following a vicious and mendacious campaign funded by $1.8 million from… the California Correctional Peace Officers Association.
That’s right. They not only make the most money in the country by a long shot (38% higher than their highest paid counterparts), they have a union that insures they continue to get it, and that the prisons remain crammed full.
Now, even the union understands that the state has to cut costs, so they’re trying to show that they’re willing to do their part (as long as it doesn’t involve cutting salaries, reducing prison population, or laying off officers).
So they have detailed some cost cutting ideas directly from their members on the California Correctional Peace Officers Association Blog
An officer at High Desert wrote, asking why “tax payers have to be responsible for 100 % of the outrageous medical bills of inmates! We as law abiding citizens have to pay a percentage of our hard earned money toward our medical bills. Why can’t they be held accountable for a percentage of their medical care through some kind of restitution? “
An officer at Folsom tells us that “. . . every morning there is a coach to show a couple of her hand selected inmates how to toss around a ball. You have got to be kidding me!!! I have to pay $250 for my son to play each sport in high school and the state is paying for a coach to show grown men how to play catch, this is crazy. Something is really wrong here.”
Another officer said:
“CDCR contracts out to a private company to provide the packages that inmates receive. But the taxpayers must still pay the institutional staffing costs associated with receiving and distributing those inmate packages. I believe those costs should be picked up by those who choose to invoke or participate in the privilege, not the taxpayers. The contracted vender should have a ‘Handling Charge’ associated with every inmate package processed. The “Handling Charge’ should go back to the State to off-set the costs associated with the staffing required to carry out the privilege. Inmate packages are not a right, they are a privilege. So why should taxpayers be forced to fully fund this privilege?
Thanks for the suggestions and as always, if you have any cost savings ideas, please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
And these are the people in charge of rehabilitation! Completely clueless about what their job is, unable to see the irony of complaining about costs to taxpayers, and focused solely on what they can get themselves.