Brown Submits Plan To Further Reduce Inmate Population
On Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) filed a proposal to comply with a court order to address prison overcrowding and improve inmate health care by further reducing the prison population, the Ventura County Star reports.
Shortly after taking office, Brown implemented a plan to reduce the prison population by shifting many inmates from state prisons to county jails. Since then, he has refused to take further steps to meet a court-ordered population cap (Ventura County Star, 5/3).
In April, a panel of federal judges rejected Brown's request to end the court-mandated reduction.
The judges ruled that the cap is necessary to address substandard conditions that have resulted in unconstitutionally poor inmate care.
In their ruling, the judges said Brown had provided "no convincing evidence" that prison overcrowding is no longer a problem (California Healthline, 4/12).
As of April, the prison population was at 150% of capacity, or 9,000 more inmates than the court-ordered cap (Ventura County Star, 5/3).
Details of Brown's Proposal
The plan calls for:
- Paroling inmates who are elderly or medically incapacitated;
- Increasing the use of drug treatment centers;
- Increasing early releases or "good time" credits to inmates, including those with serious prior convictions;
- Paying to house more inmates in county jails that have extra space and possibly at private prisons in the state;
- Slowing the return of 8,400 inmates now housed in private prisons in three other states; and
- Expanding the number of inmates fighting wildfires (Thompson, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 5/3).
Brown's filing noted that the state Legislature would have to agree to restructure state law dramatically to implement the changes (Walsh, Sacramento Bee, 5/2).
Jeffrey Beard, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation secretary, said that Brown filed the proposal "under protest" with a warning that the plan could compromise public safety (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 5/3).
The governor intends to appeal the cap on the prison population to the U.S. Supreme Court (St. John, Los Angeles Times, 5/3). He also plans to delay the implementation of his proposal during the appeals process (Ventura County Star, 5/2).
Comments on Proposal
Michael Bien -- one of the attorneys who filed the prison crowding lawsuit -- said Brown's plan is still "pretty defiant." He added, "They're saying we're not going to comply willingly, you're going to have to force us in some way, shape or form" (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 5/3).
Allen Hopper -- director of criminal justice policy for the American Civil Liberties Union of California -- said, "The governor's latest filing proposes some good ideas" for the short term, "but it's simply not enough" (Los Angeles Times, 5/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.