Yesterday, officials from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation travelled to Chowchilla in the Central Valley to talk to locals about the pending conversion of Valley State Prison for Women into a men’s facility. Chowchilla, the closest town to two of the state’s three women’s prisons, has resisted the conversion, worried about the impact of bringing in thousands of male prisoners.
The previous year was a huge one for criminal justice in California, and 2012 promises to be just as dramatic. This year we’ll see the continued fallout of California’s prison overcrowding crisis, which coupled with the state’s financial crisis, is opening the doors to reforms never thought possible in our state. Here are three big issues to watch this coming year. Capital punishment A piece in Time Magazine today suggests that capital punishment is “slowly dying” in the United States.
The state came close to meeting its first court-imposed benchmark for reducing the prison population last week. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, readying its January 10 report to the federal court in the Northern District of California, announced it’s currently operating at 169.2 percent of its designed capacity. That number nearly hits the 167-percent figure the court demanded California meet by December 27, 2011.
In 2012, a big shift will hit California’s electoral system: open primaries. Open primaries, brought in by voters through 2010′s Proposition 14, will allow the top two vote-getters in any primary for state office to advance to the general election, which means we could see districts with two Republicans or two Democrats competing in a general election.