In their fever to "get tough on crime," Californians passed stringent inhumane laws, including, "three strikes you're out." These laws left judges with little discretion, so that people committing third offenses, sometimes for crimes as innocuous as shoplifting were given life sentences.
At one point California had a prison system whose education and work programs were a model for the rest of the country. Now the state is suffering BIG TIME from the law of unintended consequences. The short-sighted law-and-order crowd didn't think about the fact that taxpayers have to feed, clothe and shelter each prisoner, no matter how inconsequential the infraction. California's prison system is not only presently bankrupting the state, but it's bankrupting the state's future. What kind of future can California have when less money is spent on education than on prisons? The prison population exploded from 20,000 in the 1980s to 167,000 currently.
Apparently, California has allowed/is allowing their corrections officers to call the shots for the legal system because of their political clout in the form of campaign donations. It seems that Californians have gotten the leadership they deserved and paid for.