In the 1970s, a single state law completely transformed the way California sentenced its criminals. The Uniform Determinate Sentencing Law was signed in 1976 by Governor Jerry Brown (yes, the same guy). Shortly thereafter the prison population began to metastasize.
In 1950, California had four state prison facilities and about 11,500 prisoners. By 2006, at the peak of the state’s prison overcrowding, there were 33 prisons and more than 172,000 inmates! That’s an increase of more than 900 percent!
California’s prisons are old, crumbling, and packed to the gills with inmates. The inmate population exploded in the late 1980s and 90s. It rose almost 900 percent over three decades and reached an all-time high in 2006, with more than 172,000 inmates behind bars. During that same period, the state almost tripled the number of prison facilities: Continue reading →