Capitol Alert: Legislative analyst says Brown's prison plan just short-term

dwalters@sacbee.comSeptember 4, 2013 

3C28BROWN

Gov. Jerry Brown explains his $315 million proposal Tuesday for coping with prison overcrowding to Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez.

RENÉE C. BYER — rbyer@sacbee.com

Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to relieve state prison overcrowding may comply with federal court orders in the short run, but not in the long run, the Legislature's budget analyst said in an analysis.

The Legislative Analyst's Office report was released as the state Senate's budget committee opened a hearing on Brown's plan and an alternate being offered by the upper house's Democratic majority. Both are aimed at avoiding outright releases of inmates.

Brown would relieve overcrowding by using out-of-state and private prisons and local facilities to reduce the state prison population by about 10,000 inmates, as the courts have ordered.

But Democratic senators say it's too expensive and want an overhaul of criminal sentencing and more rehabilitation to reduce recidivism, while keeping the targeted inmates behind state prison bars for up to three more years. They have conceptual support from inmate rights' lawyers.

The LAO analysis says, "If successfully implemented, the governor's plan would result in compliance with the court's order to meet the population cap by December 2013," but adds, "The administration's plan to purchase additional bed capacity only through 2014-15 would mean that the state is about 8,800 inmates above the court ordered limit in 2015-16."

The report says the Senate's plan runs the risk of not complying with orders to reduce the prison population by the end of this year, unless the courts agree to it, and its ability to result in long-term compliance is unclear.

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