California Budget

Gov. Newsom’s Revised Budget Features Significant New Reform-Minded Criminal Justice Spending

Taylor Walker
Written by Taylor Walker

On Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newsom released his revised state budget, which plans for $213.5 billion in spending (2% more than his January budget proposal), during fiscal year 2019-2020.

Approximately $12.8 billion of Gov. Newsom’s budget is intended to further his aim of transforming the criminal justice system “with a focus on public safety, increased rehabilitation, expanded opportunities for reentry, and restorative justice.”

The May revision reflects the Newsom administration’s “commitment to sound correctional practices and recidivism reduction that ensure the state meets its paramount obligations to protect the public correctional staff, and the incarcerated population,” the budget states.

Below, WitnessLA has compiled some of the highlights from the governor’s proposed criminal justice spending. (WLA will cover more budget stories in the coming days and weeks, so stay tuned.)

California’s New Department of Youth and Community Restoration

The May revision includes more information on Governor Newsom’s plan to, as he calls it, end “the juvenile justice system as we know it.”

California’s Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ)–which held an average daily population of approximately 650 young people in June 2018–will be transferred from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to the Department of Health and Human Services effective July 1, 2020.

In California today, most kids who are sent to lockup are sent to a local juvenile hall or camp in his or her own community.

Still, even progressive counties like Los Angeles send some kids to troubled state facilities each year.

In February, the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice released a report exposing troubling conditions within the DJJ’s three aging lockups, where a disturbing climate of violence and fear continues to breed trauma in already traumatized youth.

The governor’s plan to move the juvenile justice system into the Dept. of Health and Human Services “better aligns California’s approach with its rehabilitative mission and core values—providing trauma-informed and developmentally appropriate services in order to support a youth’s return to their community, preventing them from entering the adult system, and further enhancing public safety,” the budget says. With the new move, “California will be better positioned to achieve this mission.”

The state’s juvenile justice system will also get a new name to match its mission: the Department of Youth and Community Restoration.

The budget also includes $1.2 million in ongoing funding for the transition and staff training. The Newsom administration will launch a new training institute to train each staff memember “on best practices so they can further the new Department of Youth and Community Restoration’s rehabilitative mission.”

An additional $1.4 million will go toward creating a partnership between the new juvenile department and the California Conservation Corps to launch an apprenticeship-focused reentry program. Through the program, kids will benefit from job skill-building and help “accessing career pathways” once they are released from lockup.

Reentry Services to Expand

An infusion of $8.8 million will go toward opening two new 60-bed reentry facilities for women–one in Los Angeles, and one in Riverside. The state will also fund a 10-bed expansion for an existing male reentry facility.

These facilities, which are invaluable to rehabilitation and helping people exiting prison successfully return to life in their home communities, “provide eligible offenders a variety of services, such as substance use disorder treatment, education, and employment counseling, in the communities in which they will be released during the last portion of their sentences,” Newsom’s budget states.

A separate $71.3 million this year (and $161.9 million next year) will allow the state to launch a coordinated, evidence-based, medication-assisted substance use disorder treatment program, which will include cognitive behavior treatment, in each of the state’s 35 prison facilities, with the ability to serve every inmate who needs treatment.

“Across the country, substance use disorders (SUD) involving alcohol, opioids, and methamphetamines are on the rise, resulting in an increasing number of overdose-related deaths each year,” the budget says. “Treatment of individuals suffering from substance use disorders involves long-term medical and/or behavioral modification components. Providing offenders who battle addiction with proper evidence-based treatment and medication-assisted treatment can reduce the risk for further substance use, relapse, and drug-related death.”

New Funding to Expand Tattoo Removal Services

A general fund pot of $1.1 million will go toward expanding gang-related tattoo removal services. The extra cash would help approximately 3,000 more adults annually than the state’s currently “limited” program within the Prison Industry Authority. The program will focus specifically on individuals who are actively working to leave gangs or who are soon to be released from prison. The funding will be bumped to an ongoing $2.1 million for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

Newsom’s January budget proposal had set aside a tentative $2.5 million for the upcoming year, that would have served approximately 4,400 people.

Streamlining Victims Services

The budget also acknowledges that victims programs and services are managed by multiple different government departments in a way that “is not designed to maximize ease of access for victims.”

The governor intends to consolidate the Office of Emergency Services and
Victim Compensation Board–two victims programs–to reside within a new state department, and will look at other possible victims programs that could be similarly consolidated. “This will provide one central place for victims and their families to obtain information and access services when they are most in need,” according to the May budget revision.

Additionally, $2 million will fund the CDCR’s Office of Victims and Survivor Rights and Services’ Offender Dialogue program, which uses restorative justice tools to help prisoners understand the harm they have caused through their crimes. The money will also fund grants that go to community victim impact programs.

Money for Community-Based Violence Prevention

A total of $9 million in ongoing money from the General Fund will flow into the state’s Violence Intervention and Prevention Program. This upcoming fiscal year, the program will be infused with a one-time $18 million pot of money. The program offers grants to community-based organizations that operate diversion programs, violence reduction efforts, outreach to transition-age youth (TAY) who may be at risk of violence or exposure to the criminal justice system, and community education programs.

Image: Governor Gavin Newsom unveils his revised budget proposal.


  • “Highlights,” Taylor? Really?

    “Approximately $12.8 billion of Gov. Newsom’s budget is intended to further his aim of transforming the criminal justice system “with a focus on public safety, increased rehabilitation, expanded opportunities for reentry, and restorative justice.”

    Oh yeah…last and DEFINITELY least, restorative justice.

    Helping drug addicts – 233 million
    Women’s re-entry facilities – 8.8 million
    Diversion (keeping crooks out of jail) – 9 million
    Improving juvenile justice systems and training – 2.6 million
    TATTOO REMOVAL! – 2.5 million
    Helping CRIMINALS understand they victimized people – 2 million

    Victims – NOTHING

  • Typical LibTurd / DemonRat nonsense! Millions of dollars are being allocated to criminals (i.e., rehabilitation, tattoo removal, reduce recidivism). Yet the California taxpayer and the victims of crimes get nothing. Is this why we pay taxes so that our money can be spent on trying to rehabilitate criminals?

  • California keeps inching further and further ahead on its agenda of imposing a sublime form of “socialism” upon its tax-paying residents. The state government has become one that ignores the will of the voting public and reverses the decisions of the people via executive order, imposes taxes at will in order to make the haves pay for the have nots, tries to impose a cell phone texting tax on the haves in order to provide cell phones to the have nots, raises taxes on fuel when it sees that people are buying more fuel efficient cars resulting in lower tax revenues, builds high speed rail projects to no where, allows the homeless and mentally ill to roam the streets and create a public health safety hazard, fights against the Federal Government and selectively picks and chooses which parts of the US Constitution and Federal law it wants to enforce and is more concerned about the rights of non-residents, homeless and criminals than its tax burdened citizens.

    The state legislature and judiciary have colluded to make bills that protect their power and ability to make laws, stay in power and trample the rights of the tax spying law abiding common citizen everyday.

    Is this really how a democracy works?

  • LASD Apostle, you speak of chump change. California will spend almost 12 billion, billion with a “B” on its corrections department, with some fat salaries for the prison guards, who, like you, have a great union. That is an increase of about $270 million. The increase alone is about the same as the numbers you cite.

    Mr. Rolman, depends on what taxes. If Federal, you pay so that you can have the most bloated military in the world, so that you can have “heroes” to worship and celebrate on the 4th of July taking on people in sandals in Afghanistan while our president bends over for the leader of the country that is trying to manipulate our elections. The other big ticket for which you are paying is social security and medicare for old folks who want the government to keep its hands off their medicare. If local taxes, you are paying them so that you can have a well paid police force with seriously generous benefits and job protection people in the private sector can only dream of. On the state level, you should probably be more pissed that we spend almost as much on corrections as on higher education. As one of our founders would have said, you are being penny wise and pound foolish.

    Let’s Hear More, it’s called representative government. You vote for someone who speaks for you. You do not like him or her, you vote him out. Its actually more democratic than what we have on the federal level where we have an electoral college system wherein a person can win the most votes for president and still lose the election, a system that gives backwater and rural states more representation, some of those states have more cows or pigs than people, but their vote is worth more than my vote and yours here in California. I hope you’ll start complaining about that undemocratic system.

    Fed Up, thank god you were not around 1850, as would probably be rounding up slaves under the Fugitive Slave Act, as the true patriot you no doubt would have been. Or, maybe giving Japanese free rides to the camps in 1942 given it would have been your patriotic duty to enforce Order 9066. Or, maybe you would have been at the schoolhouse door keeping little black girls from going to school with your little princess. You ain’t in Kansas anymore, Dorothy.

  • LASD APOSTLE, this is an “advocate” for those in the criminal justice system, whose sole goal is helping people change their lives. I also have a huge respect for LASD deputies who put their lives on the line every day. So don’t take this the wrong way…

    Yes, victims should be included in the budget, and given all the support to heal and rebuild their lives. But isn’t it a bit of a narrow view to not believe that helping offenders beat drug habits, helping woman put their lives back together upon reentry, making improvements in the juvenile justice system so young offenders don’t become tomorrow’s inmates, removing gang tattoos of those who have dropped out of their gangs and forcing them to understand the pain they caused folks, so as to never cause that pain again, actually HELPS public safety, prevents future victims, creates Tax payers, rather than tax drainers, and ultimately can set the children of the ex-inmates on a path into college, rather than their own path into jail and prison? I have seen many people turn their lives around. I have seen many people diverted from crime at a young age, and not ever enter the adult system.

    For victims, and the safety of our communities, isn’t this a good thing?

  • …representative Democracy sounds nice, but let’s not be naive with respect to the actions taken it legislative bodies to ensure re-election, gerrymandering, and courts redrawing voting district boarders alltogether. Oh…and let’s not forget politicians taking deliberate steps
    to deceptively write propositions that are placed on the ballot.

    In an ideal world, the voting process should work. We clearly are not in an ideal world.

  • Less, I AGREE with many of the programs to reform those who are justice involved (used to be called “criminals”), but I object to the disproportionate amount of money allocated to the effort with little or NO money dedicated toward helping victims.

    Its like giving all attention to the school bully and ignoring all the kids who got bloody noses or had their lunch money taken….HOPING the bully will change his ways.

  • What about the extremely disproportionate amount of payouts due to criminal acts, inappropriate behavior and cover ups by deputies.

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