At the beginning of this month, California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) commenced its prison realignment plan per the orders of the Supreme Court. CDCR’s realignment involves transporting non-serious, nonviolent, and/or nonsexual offenders from its notoriously overcrowded adult prison system to local county jails in an effort to reduce the current inmate population of 156,000 by about 40,000 within the next two years. California’s prison population has ballooned to the extent that gymnasiums were converted into makeshift sleeping quarters, single toilets are being shared by 54 inmates, and the mental and medical healthcare services can no longer treat the influx of inmates.
The Supreme Court’s May ruling that CDCR’s 200% over-capacity adult prison system is a blatant case of cruel and unusual punishment and reintroduces the outcry for prison reform. Stakeholders and policymakers must not take CDCR’s over-capacity, high recidivism rates (67.5% as opposed to the national average of 52%), and health care insufficiencies as an anomalous issue — America’s 2.3 million prison population, which is twice that of England’s and four times as much as France’s prison population, is a well-documented dilemma that warrants immediate attention.