California prison activists protest cuts to rehab programs

Today in Sacramento educators and former inmates protested 250 million dollars in state budget cuts to prison rehabilitation programs. The cuts take effect in February. When they do, inmates will lose about half the programs available to them now. Instructors and counselors face consequences, too.

Only a small fraction of California’s 150,000 inmates are able to attend classes inside prison.
Teacher Cindie Fonseca says those inmates that do benefit.

"Inmates have to have some kind of hope that they can change and that’s what education gives them."

For 16 years, Cindie Fonseca has taught printing classes at the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco. She says she knows of dozens of inmates who’ve applied the skills they’ve learned in prison to stay clean once they’re outside.

Now the state plans to cut her course, and Fonseca - along with 900 other prison teachers and counselors – will be out of work.

Fonseca predicts that the state will spend more on incarceration as crime rates soar.

"We think that inmates are going to be released with no education, no alternatives and that there’s going to be more crime" Fonseca said.

Corrections officials say they made the cuts to programs to help close the state’s budget deficit. They say they’ll try to offset the cuts to rehabilitation programs by recruiting more volunteers and training some inmates to counsel others with substance abuse problems.

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