The info below will have an effect on every prisoner and family member in a CA prison. Restitution will go up to 80% if this bill (AB 423) succeeds…please write letters NOW!!!
It’s URGENT!!! Please send a letter of opposition to:
Assembly Member Tom Ammiano
Chair, Assembly Member Public Safety Committee
Fax: (916) 319-3745
You can base your letter on the one below…..
Letters must be received by 5 pm Wednesday, 3/27.
It’s important that as many people as possible are aware of this bill.
Forward to other groups and individuals.
Attached is a copy of FCLCA’s opposition letter to Assembly Member Norma Torres and Assembly Member Tom Ammiano (Assembly Public Safety Committee Chair) concerning the proposed increase in withholding from prisoners’ trust accounts to 80 percent. The bill also contains a seemingly mean spirited (my editorial comment only) provision to delete the exemption of trust account funds for food purchases for overnight visits.
AB 109 – realignment of prisoners with low-level convictions to the counties – authorized counties to collect restitution, but did not mandate it. So, this has created a monkey wrench for the Victims Compensation and Government Claims Board.
Another key fact: In 2009, the legislature took $70 million from the Victims Compensation Fund to help balance the state’s budget. It wasn’t a loan – they just took it.
Despite these developments, the fund is solvent for the next 3-4 years, according to Wayne Strumpfer, legal counsel for the VCGB.
THE FRIENDS COMMITTEE ON LEGISLATION OF CALIFORNIA (FCLCA) IS A LEGISLATIVE ACTION GROUP FOUNDED BY QUAKERS IN 1952.
March 23, 2013
Assembly Member Norma Torres
Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: Assembly Bill 423
OPPOSE SB 423
Dear Assembly Member Torres,
The Friends Committee on Legislation of California (FCLCA), a Quaker -based, statewide lobby
which advocates for state laws that are compassionate and respectful of the inherent worth of
every person, regrets to inform you of our opposition to AB 423. This bill requires the California
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to withhold 80 percent of prisoners and
Department of Juvenile Justice Wards’ trust accounts and/or wages for transfer to the Victims
Compensation and Government Claims Board (VCGB) in order to satisfy a restitution order or
fine and deletes the exemption of funds for the purchase of food from prison canteens for
FCLCA believes we should do more to restore the victims of crime and understands the
importance of restitution. However, 75 percent of the monies in prisoner’s trust accounts
comes from contributions from family members of the incarcerated who send in money so that
their loved ones may make purchases from prison canteens. An 80 percent withholding rate is
excessive. When coupled with CDCR’s five percent processing fee, a prisoner whose father
sends $100 dollars to his trust account would receive only $15. Families of the incarcerated,
who have committed no crime, comprise some of California’s most economically distressed
We are also skeptical of the provision deleting the exemption of funds for the purchase of food for overnight visits. Only prisoners who have a parole date may have overnight visits. While the amount of money of collected for restitution by deleting this exemption seems likely to have very little impact on the solvency of the Victims Compensation Fund, the impact borne by prisoners and their families would be significant.
We understand that realigning a significant portion of California’s prison population has created
challenges with regards to collecting restitution. Moreover, in 2009, the Legislature took away
$70 million from the Victims Compensation Fund in order to help balance the state’s budget. A
2008 audit of VCGCB by the Bureau of State Audits also pointed to its increasingly high
overhead even when its payouts declined. Despite these long terms
challenges, we also understand that the Victims Compensation Fund is solvent for the next three to four years.
Prison canteens help ameliorate prison life and lower stress levels within prisons. As a result
they promote safety for prisoners and staff alike. Rather than imposing an excessive “tax” on
the family members of the incarcerated, we urge the Legislature to consider how we might
better extend the collection of restitution to prisoners realigned by AB 109 and other
reasonable ways to make the fund solvent over the long run.
For these reasons, FCLCA respectively opposes AB 423.
We hope to discuss this bill with your office next week. In the meantime, please feel free tocontact our office if you would like to
discuss our position.