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Fast Facts and Information on the Honor Program

“Can anything be done…? The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation can do some things on its own. It could allow inmates wanting and able to enroll in rehab programs to be housed together. It could better identify and train officers to run the programs. And it could work to lessen the hostility between management and prison guards, thereby motivating officers to help conduct rehab programs.”
--Professor Joan Petersilia, Understanding California Corrections

• The Honor Program, created in 2000 by prisoners and non-custody staff with the desire to lower violence, crime, racism, and drug use, has proven to be very effective. It is located on Facility-A (which houses about 600 men) at the Level IV maximum security California State Prison, Los Angeles County (CSP-LAC)

• Prisoners must apply to participate in the program. They are screened, must have a clean record, and must state a desire to commit to more demanding criteria, including abstaining from violence, racism, gang involvement, and drug use. (Random drug testing is part of the program.)

• The Honor Program requires each prisoner to create an “Individual Development Plan” to achieve self-improvement goals. Prisoners agree to take responsibility for their own personal growth and transformation, and are involved in programs or activities that address emotional, psychological, social and/or vocational health.

• The Honor Program allows prisoners to have a choice between the negative group punishment model or personal responsibility and individual accountability. It clearly separates those who really want to change and improve.

• The Honor Program has demonstrated the desire of prisoners to help others, to give back to the community, and to make amends for past wrongdoings. Tens of thousands of dollars has been raised for, and thousands of contributions have been made by, Honor Program prisoners to non-profit organizations, Toys for Tots and similar groups, the poor around the world by eyeglasses refurbishing programs, and many other areas of help for the needy.

• In its first year of operation The Honor Program at CSP-LAC:
  - Saved the taxpayers of California over $200,000
  - Reduced weapons offenses by 88% and violence by 85%
  - In its six years of operation, the Honor Program has functioned without a single major violent incident, with savings of millions of dollars to the state of California.

• With greater official support, so much more is possible through the Honor Program. Many positive opportunities have been dashed as a result of a lack of desire to explore safe, workable, and economically sensible options.

• The Honor Program must be made a part of the California Code of Regulations, Title 15, to insure its long-term success. Thank you for your support and consideration.

Fast Facts and Information on California Prisons

• California has the largest, most expensive correctional system in the nation, and it is filled to twice its intended capacity.

• With more than 174, 000 inmates in 33 adult prisons, the state’s annual correctional spending, including jails and probation, amounts to $8.92 billion.

• With the worst recidivism rate in the country, California’s crowded prisons are filled with parolees who churn in and out of the system. Two out of three incoming inmates are parolees. Only 1 in 5 parolees completes his or her parole term without going back. Of the approximately 120,000 inmates released annually, about 70% of them are back behind bars within 24 months – nearly twice the national average. Worse yet, about 10% of these prisoners will repeatedly return – six or more times over a seven-year period, according to one study. No other state reports such a high inmate-churn rate.

• The 120,000 parolees who are released into our neighborhoods each year have endured the extreme trauma of the prison experience and years of exposure to other “hardened” criminals. (If an individual was not “hardened” before he went into prison, he certainly is when he gets out (see recidivism rate)).

• The enormous recidivism rate directly affects the two most important areas of concern for our communities and for the state of California: safety for our children, families, and businesses, and a huge tax and financial burden.

• California prisons are so overcrowded it has forced more than 17,000 inmates into gymnasium and classroom housing, a dangerous alternative that puts both guards and prisoners at risk.

• Studies show that California inmates are less likely than their counterparts in other states to receive any sort of educational or vocational training while incarcerated.

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