Bonta Bill Pushing Rehabilitation Through Education Passes Higher Education Committee

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) is pleased to announce AB 1271 passed the Assembly Higher Education Committee today with strong bipartisan support (12-1).  The bill would allow California Community Colleges to receive full funding for courses offered in correctional institutions.

“California has one of the highest recidivism rates in the country.  Attorney General Kamala Harris has stated that two-thirds of released prisoners commit another crime within three years of release.  Although these figures are alarming, we know that education is a key part of the solution to the problem,” said Assemblymember Bonta.

“Studies have shown that formerly incarcerated individuals who have participated in correctional education have a 43% reduced chance of recidivism. Unfortunately, the correctional education budget has suffered severe cuts, and there is currently little to no incentive for our community colleges to teach courses to our inmates.  The community college districts have received devastating cuts in the past few years as well and cannot afford to teach courses for which they do not receive proper funding.”

In 2010-11, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) was subjected to an unallocated cut to its budget of $1.2 billion.  As a result, CDCR reduced its internal funding for rehabilitative programs, including academic, vocational, substance abuse and other programs for inmates and parolees.

Bonta concluded, “By creating more incentives for California Community Colleges to provide courses and encourage attendance by our current prisoners, AB 1271 will decrease future incarceration costs by reducing recidivism, improve the employment potential of recently released prisoners, and increase the safety of the general public. I am very pleased that my colleagues on the Assembly Higher Education Committee understand the need for this legislation.”

Support for the bill includes: AFSCME, California School Employees Association, California State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Community College League of California, and the Kern, Los Angeles, Los Rios, Peralta, Rio Hondo, West Kern, and Yuba Community College Districts.

Assemblymember Rob Bonta represents the 18th Assembly District, which includes Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro. He is the Chair of the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security Committee and the Select Committee on Gun Violence in the East Bay. He is also a member of the Assembly Health, Transportation, Banking & Finance, and Elections & Redistricting Committees.