Governor Jerry Brown’s latest proposal to avoid the early release of some 9,600 prison inmates is as good a plan as can be implemented today.
The state has until December to shed these inmates from our prisons as ordered by federal judges who believe our prisoners are severely over crowded and thereby unfair to prisoners.
The governor has proposed spending more than $700 million to eliminate overcrowding by sending prisoners to alternative facilities.
Among those facilities are privately owned prisons in and out of the state, and a proposal to reopen city-owned jails in Shafter and Taft in the Central Valley, and perhaps sending more inmates to county jails.
The proposal, which comes with a hefty price tag, has also earned the support of prison guards who have traditionally fought efforts to send prisoners to privately owned and operated prison, but who this time around will staff one such facility.
We believe this is a sensible solution to a problem the state has only four months to solve.
To release another 9,600 felons into California communities is unfair to those who play by the rules, and an added burden to local policing agencies.
While the plan represents a practical solution in this moment, we also agree with Senate leader Darrel Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez that the state needs to develop and spend more on mental heath and drug treatment programs.
We also believe that a comprehensive review and overhaul of the states criminal sentencing laws is also needed.
There is no reason that all three recommendations can’t be undertaken simultaneously.
We have a crisis now and it calls for an alternative to releasing serious felons back into our communities, which Brown’s plan provides.
It will also give the legislature time to work on other proposals to safely and rationally reduce the prison population, without the threat if a judge’s order hanging over them.
What Sacramento needs to do is stop the bickering and get started implementing a more permanent solution.