Senate Bill 542 - authored by Senator Curren D. Price, Jr. (D-Culver City), which specifies that the state Inmate Welfare Fund (IWF) be utilized for specific purposes including education, recreation, family visiting services and obtaining identification cards - was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on Sept. 30.
Sen. Price, who represents a portion of Hollywood, initiated the bill after he and his staff made several visits to state correctional facilities and learned about the cuts that had been made to programs and services for inmates.
Following his visits, he held a series of meetings with over 20 stakeholder groups to discuss the most pressing needs of inmates and how to address them. SB 542 now ensures better accountability of the IWF and outlines specific services the fund may be used for. The bill also made changes to exisiting Penal Codes 2786 and 5006.
"The recent changes to Penal Code 2786 and 5006 are consistent with California’s commitment to providing inmates with programs and services that will allow them to be rehabilitated during incarceration and successfully transitioned back to their communities upon release," Sen. Price stated in an official release.
According to a statement from Sen. Curren’s office the most important part of the bill builds in accountability, requiring each warden to meet with representatives from advocacy groups and with inmates to determine how the funds are spent.