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Governor Brown Promises to Decrease California Inmate Populations

by Blake Bunch, published

california inmate populations Neil Lang /

Governor Jerry Brown has been plagued with the seemingly "lose/lose" task of decreasing California inmate populations by 10,000 inmates by the end of May. Adhering to a Supreme Court order from early 2011, the governor, returning from a recent trade conference in China, vowed he was working hard on a plan to minimize California prisons.

Though realignment and rehabilitation efforts have proven beneficial, the state is currently not on pace to meet the Supreme Court's deadline.

"We've got to come up with a plan," Gov. Brown told the LA Times. "They [Supreme Court] may not issue a stay, then we'll have some action."

The "stay" Brown is referring to would require the state to proceed with an outline by the beginning of May for how to move felons out of state facilities. Several legislators have proposed bills which would entail sending convicted drug dealers and sex offenders from state correctional institutions to individual counties.

These proposed realignment efforts do not sit well with Republican officials throughout the state. Although federal judges have classified California prisons as "unconstitutionally overcrowded," some Republicans feel that Brown's realignment plan has led to several violent crimes around the state.

Leading the charge against the governor's proposed plan is Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber), who believes it puts citizens in even greater danger. He claims that Brown's "assertions that prison realignment is 'not an early release program' are deceptive."

In an April 10 press release, Nielsen explained why he believes the governor has deceived citizens in regards to his realignment plan:

"Realignment allows judges to split the sentence of felons so that part of their term may be spent in county jail and part subject to county probation. When county jails are full, where will the felons go? Under realignment, parole periods have been slashed from three years to one year. Most parolees will be supervised by county probation instead of the state parole authority. Now, each of the 58 counties must create their own parole system. This policy makes as much sense as requiring 58 counties to establish their own Department of Motor Vehicles."

"We'll put Nielsen on the advisory committee to figure out how to deal with the 10,000," the governor told the LA Times in response to Nielsen's concerns

With both parties differing widely on this issue throughout the state, and several violent crimes erupting this month, Brown is tasked with quite a strenuous endeavor. He seems, however, un-phased by remarks made against his choice to continue with the realignment plan.

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