Prison Guards Sit Out Debate

201511.03

Prison cells with open doorsIn California, the issue of prison overcrowding has become extremely important when it comes to balancing budgets and keeping the public safe.

While there has been much debate on whether it is in society’s best interest to release prisoners early, California is prepared to do so. With thousands of prisoners expected to be released soon, the state’s largest prison guard union has refused to take a position on Proposition 47, which would drastically decrease the prison population within the state.

Who Would be Released?

Because many of the prisoners set to be released are considered to be low-level drug offenders, those who are in favor of prison reform see Prop 47 as a way to save money while helping create prisons that are far less crowded. In addition, the state would also be able to stop building one new prison after another in an attempt to house the influx of new prisoners continually entering the system. However, no matter how many or few prisoners are in the state’s jails and prisons, the workload for bail bondsmen will stay the same. From low-level drug offenders to those who commit more serious offenses, bail bondsmen will still be busy day and night working with prisoners and their families to secure their freedom while awaiting further court hearings.

Why Are the Prison Guards Silent?

Yet while the workload of bail bondsmen is not likely to decrease, the opposite is true for many prison guards. In fact, this is considered one of the primary reasons why the California Correctional Peace Officer’s Association has been silent on Prop 47. Having secured guarantees from the state that staffing levels for guards would not be based on a set ratio to the prison population, the union has had many of its concerns put to rest based on these guarantees. In addition, prison budgets will not be reduced so drastically as to put any correctional officer jobs at risk, which also explains the union’s stance or lack thereof. But while the CCPOA may not be taking a stand against Prop 47, other groups have been very vocal in their opposition.

The California Correctional Supervisors Association, the California Police Chiefs Association, District Attorneys Association, and State Sheriff’s Association have all expressed opposition to Prop 47. Believing the mass release of prisoners will make the state far less safe, these groups have looked at those in favor of prison reform as a fringe group that has delusional ideas of a utopia. However, despite their differing views, all groups continue to agree that there must be a delicate balance maintained when it comes to being tough on crime.

So as many of the state’s prison guards sit out the debate on Prop 47, California citizens will hold their collective breath and wait for the outcome. But no matter what happens, it’s virtually guaranteed that residents throughout the state will continue to see many of these group’s views collide with one another. However, there does appear to be room for compromise, which will help to ensure the safety and security of everyone.