Calif. governor seeks 3-year delay on easing prison crowding

Brown's proposal to seek an extension is based on a deal struck with lawmakers last week

By Paige St. John
LA Times

SACRAMENTO — Following through on a deal struck with legislative leaders, Gov. Jerry Brown told federal judges Monday that he is prepared to spends hundreds of millions of dollars moving inmates out of crowded prisons — but would rather use the money to rehabilitate prisoners so they don't come back.

To do that, the state is asking for a three-year delay in meeting the inmate population caps the judges ordered in 2010.

"For prison population reduction measures to be effective and lasting, they cannot be unilaterally imposed," the governor's lawyers said in a late-night filing, arguing that "state prisons are just one part of the larger, interconnected criminal justice system."

The proposal Brown submitted is based on a compromise hammered out with lawmakers who opposed his plan to reduce crowding by sending thousands of inmates to privately owned prisons and other detention facilities.

If judges agree to delay the deadline, Brown will still move 2,500 inmates out of state lockups and into alternative facilities within California, according to the court filing. And he will set aside $150 million next year for treating drug abuse and mental illness and other rehabilitation programs.

If the judges say no, the state proposes to meet their Dec. 31 deadline by spending $315 million this year — and more the next — to move more than three times as many prisoners, primarily to private lockups as far away as Mississippi.

Backers of the rehabilitation plan say that it would have a more enduring effect on the prison population, though it might take years to achieve the reductions the court wants now.

Full story: Brown seeks 3-year delay on easing prison crowding

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