Bloomberg News

California Warns 26,000 Prison Employees That They May Be Fired

October 21, 2011

Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) -- California warned 26,000 prison employees that they could lose their jobs as part of a plan to ease inmate overcrowding and shift responsibility for thousands of criminals to county lockups.

The notices were sent today to guards and employees who have less than 10 years on the job, said Paul Verke, a spokesman for the Corrections and Rehabilitation Department. Not all 26,000 employees will be fired.

The state on Oct. 1 began to shift responsibility for those convicted of nonviolent, low-level crimes from state control to county jails and local probation under a plan by Governor Jerry Brown to reduce prison crowding and cut spending.

“The 26,000 figure is casting a wide net,” Verke said. “They are the people who could be affected by this. People may have to transfer or go to a lower-paying classification or eventually leave.”

California, which slashed spending on schools and the poor this year to erase a $26 billion projected deficit, runs the nation’s largest correctional system, with about 161,000 inmates. The U.S. Supreme Court, citing overcrowding and inadequate health care, ordered the state to reduce the prison population by 33,000 in two years.

--Editors: Pete Young, Ted Bunker

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael B. Marois in Sacramento at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at

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