Gov. Schwarzenegger struck a
deal with the state legislature for a controversial new program
that could shave billions off the budget deficit. Critics argue
it's "just plain stupid."
By George Wolfe
SACRAMENTO — As part of a package aimed at significantly
reducing the state's $38 billion deficit, Gov. Schwarzenegger
and legislators last night passed the Flexible Correctional Facilities
Act that will transfer thousands of state inmates to "cost-effective
"A lot of our state's prisoners really
don't need the complete security of traditional jails. It's overkill."
— Slim Schenkins,
(D — Whittier)
The portables are inflatable, 10-foot-by-10-foot pens with an enclosed
top, netting on all sides and an airtight rubber flap for a door.
They are typically used as self-contained "bounce rooms"
or "jump rooms" for kids' birthday parties in Southern
"A lot of our state's prisoners really don't need the complete
security of traditional jails. It's overkill." says Slim
Schenkins (D - Whittier). "It boils down to supply and demand.
With so many inmates and so many of these portables, this legislative
act provides a natural and painless solution for taxpayers and
"74% of inmates said that, if housed
in a portable jail, they would not flee."
— Rand Corporation study
But while advocates noted how overcrowded schools have built extra
classrooms on playgrounds with no negative consequences, critics
questions the comparison and questioned the logic of housing dangerous
inmates in such low-security facilities. Legislators were quick
to point out that death row inmates would not be eligible for the
Speaking at a news conference, the governor cited a study by
the Rand Corporation which stated: "74% of inmates said that,
if housed in a portable jail, they would not flee."
"Desperate times call for desperate measures," said
Schenkins about the late-night legislative session. "But
this at least puts us in the right direction. Look, it was late,
we were tired; we had to do something or our constituents would
accuse us of being irresponsible."