California Proposition 139, Prison Inmate Labor Initiative (1990)

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California Proposition 139, also known as the Prison Inmate Labor Initiative of 1990, was on the November 6, 1990 ballot in California as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was approved.

Proposition 139 amended the California Constitution to allow state and local inmates to perform work for private organizations.

Election results

Proposition 139
Approveda Yes 3,867,147 54.05%

Constitutional changes

California Constitution
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The parts of the California Constitution affected by Proposition 139 were:

Ballot summary

The official ballot summary for Proposition 139 said:

  • Amends state Constitution to permit state prison and county jail officials to contract with public entities, businesses and others, for inmate labor.
  • Limits inmate labor during strike or lockout situations.
  • Adds statutes requiring state prison director to establish joint venture programs for employment of inmates.
  • Requires inmate wages be comparable to non-inmate wages for similar work.
  • Makes inmate wages subject to deductions for: taxes, room and board, lawful restitution fines or victim compensation, and family support.
  • Allows inmate's employer ten percent of wage tax credit against defined state taxes.

Fiscal impact

The fiscal estimate provided by the California Legislative Analyst's Office said:

  • This measure would likely result in net savings to the state because of wage deductions to offset cost of incarceration, reduction in amount of time spent in prison due to participation in joint venture program, and decreased state and local costs due to additional family support payments reducing public assistance costs.
  • These savings would be partially offset by costs due to revenue loss resulting from employer tax credits and possible additional administrative costs to operate program.
  • The magnitude of savings is impossible to quantify.
  • The measure's impact on local governments is impossible to estimate because the contents of local ordinances implementing contracts for use of jail labor are unknown.
  • Unknown indirect fiscal effects may occur to the extent this measure affects the number of jobs available in the private sector.

External links