California has found several ways to reduce some of the costs of their criminal justice systems, especially by increasing the use of alternatives to incarceration. The most important criterion is public safety.
The term “incarceration” is often shorthand for “custody-based punishment”, a phrase which emphasizes prison as a means of punishment. As Departments of Correction nationwide are becoming more enlightened, incarceration is increasingly regarded as a way of providing rehabilitation rather than punishment. Now, when possible, out-of-custody supervision (halfway house, sober house, home detention) is both reducing costs and relieving prison overcrowding.
For a complete look at how California is lowering prison costs while protecting taxpayers, please visit Public Policy Institute of California website to see a full explanation of the the cost-saving measures.