Just in time for the November 4 election, the Reason Foundation has released a slew of reports on California ballot measures. The bond measures Prop. 1A High Speed Rail, Prop. 3 Children’s Hospitals, Prop. 10 Alternative Fuel Vehicles, and Prop. 12 Veterans’ Bonds, are treated in a single report. Prop 1A, Prop. 5 on Nonviolent Offenders, and Prop. 11 on Redistricting are covered more thoroughly in separate studies. For another perspective on the redistricting initiative, see the report from the Center for Governmental Studies. If after reading these you’re still undecided, check out the abundant resources on the ballot measures compiled by the Institute of Governmental Studies Library at Election 2008 Hot Topics.
The California Commission of the Fair Administration of Justice (CCFAJ), chaired by former State Attorney General John Van De Kamp, released its final report today. The CCFAJ was instituted by the State Senate in August 2004 “to study and review the administration of criminal justice in California to determine the extent to which that process has failed in the past, resulting in wrongful executions or the wrongful conviction of innocent persons.”
The commission’s final report states that the state’s system of administering death penalty cases is “dysfunctional” and “close to collapse” and estimates that well over $100 million is spent each year moving death penalty cases and appeals through the judicial system. The length of time between sentence and execution of the death penalty “averages over two decades.” (The national average is 12 years.)
According to a recent study from the Violence Policy Center in Washington DC, California has had the steepest decline nationally in the number of federally licensed gun dealers — the number of Americans authorized to sell guns with a Type 1 FFL license — in the period extending from 1994 to 2007. California’s total number of gun dealers fell during that period by 89%, from 20,148 to 2120.
In September 2005, the state auditor’s office released a report concluding (among other things) that the state correctional system needed to do a better job with its inmate population projections, which continue to follow a methodology called “microsimulation” that has been in place for over 30 years.
The 2005 report stated that the Department of Corrections’ population projections were “useful for budgeting, but have limited value for longer-range planning, such as determining when to build additional facilities.”
The report painted a picture of a department whose projections continually overestimated the need for new inmate facilities. The 1995 projection overpredicted the inmate population by as much as 71,000.
The auditor’s office has just released a follow-up to that 2005 report. The follow-up concludes that the Department of Corrections has made little progress toward implementing the recommendations in the original report. Specifically, the auditor found that the correctional system, while claiming that it had revised its methodology for population projections, had not provided documentation to support the claim that its methodology had been revamped.
The follow-up concludes that the “usefulness” of the Department of Corrections’ population projections “remains questionable.”
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: Inmate Population Projections Remain Questionable [California State Auditor]