|Budget Issue:||Reimbursements to counties for detaining new prison commitments.|
|Program:||Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation|
|Finding or Recommendation:||Withhold action on the Governor's proposed $10 million one-time General Fund augmentation to reimburse counties for detaining new prison commitments until the May Revision when updated information is available regarding county claims. Also require the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to report at budget hearings on what specific actions it is taking to reduce the number of prison commitments in county jail.|
Under existing state law, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is required to reimburse counties for the daily jail costs incurred detaining each individual sentenced to prison as a new commitment following five working days after a county notifies CDCR that the individual is ready to be transferred to state prison. The Governor’s budget for 2010-11 proposes a one-time General Fund augmentation of $10 million for CDCR to provide these county reimbursements.
Since the department has never received invoices from counties seeking the above reimbursements, CDCR indicates that it currently has no funding in its base budget to provide such county reimbursements. However, the department started to receive invoices from counties seeking reimbursement in the current year. The department reports a backlog of $1.5 million in claims from counties for holding new prison commitments during the period of August 5, 2009 through October 2, 2009. According to CDCR, this backlog does not reflect the total estimated 2,000 new prison commitments held in county jails across the state. This is because the department has had difficulty tracking how many of these inmates are being held in county jail beyond the five-day notification. We note that given the significant number of new prison commitments being detained in county jail, CDCR indicates that it is taking steps to transfer individuals to state prison at a much faster rate. In view of the above, the $10 million being requested reflects a very rough projection of the total number of claims that the department will receive from counties by the end of the current year.
At the time of the May Revision, the department indicates that it will likely revise its budget request for a $10 million one-time augmentation based on updated information regarding county claims. Therefore, we recommend that the Legislature withhold action on this request until the May Revision. However, given that the daily jail reimbursement rate of $77.17 per inmate exceeds the daily cost of about $63 to house an inmate in state prison, we further recommend that the Legislature require CDCR to report at budget hearings on what specific actions it is taking to reduce the number of new prison commitments held in county jail.