California prisoner rehab program hit by budget cuts

California prison officials began touting a new public safety reform in January that would encourage inmates to complete a rehabilitation course and earn six weeks per year off a sentence.

Inside Folsom State Prison, though, inmates and instructors leading such courses are skeptical it will work.

In reality, they say, budget cuts approved by legislators last year, needed to cope with an unprecedented fiscal crisis, are devastating programs that are the basis for the new credit and for helping inmates stay straight once free.

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is slashing $250 million — almost 45 percent — of the $560 million it was to spend on rehabilitation this fiscal year.

That means a 30 percent trim in high school equivalency and other literacy and vocational courses — 800 out of 1,500 instructors have been let go — and a 40 percent cut in substance-abuse programs.

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