CA Legislature Passes Weaker Prison Reduction Bill

The California Senate yesterday passed an amended prison reduction bill (already passed by the Assembly.) It now goes to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is expected to sign it.

Here is the Amended Bill. In addition to expanding some good time credits and reducing some parole supervision, it increases the monetary threshold amounts for some felony crimes like theft so that more will now be misdemeanors.

The bill is a weaker version of the one passed by the Senate weeks ago. The provisions authorizing early release to certain inmates with less than 12 months to serve, who are over age 60 or who are medically incapacitated, were stripped from the final version.

As a result, it will not satisfy the federal court order to reduce the inmate population by 40,000 inmates over the next two years. Instead, it will only cut the prison population by 20,000 to 25,000 inmates (or as few as 16,000 inmates)over two years. The bill originally passed by the Senate (which the Assembly would not agree to) would have cut 37,000 inmates. Other differences: [More...]

[T]he bill no longer contains provisions passed by the Senate that would have moved thousands of inmates to home detention and created a commission with the power to change state sentencing laws. Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles), called the final bill "prison lite," although she voted for it, and declared: "What's not in the bill is a resolution and solution to this prison crisis."

The bill will:

....reduce supervision of low-level offenders on parole so they could not be sent back for violating the terms of their release. It would allow some offenders to earn shorter terms by completing rehabilitation programs.

Nor will the final bill that passed save as much money:

[The original Senate] package would have cut $525 million from the $1.2 billion in prison cuts they authorized in July's budget deal. The governor planned to make up the difference with administrative actions.

The package sent to the governor's desk Friday evening, however, is estimated to be more than $200 million short.

What happens now that the bill does not satisfy the federal court order? Gov. Schwarzenegger has said he will appeal the order. But he did not get a stay.

It's too bad the original version could not have passed.

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  • Display: Sort:
    I read last week (none / 0) (#1)
    by MKS on Sat Sep 12, 2009 at 11:48:37 PM EST
    that the inmate population in the California State prison system was only about 20,000 in the early 80s.  Now it is at 170,000.

    And there is an astounding number of misdemeanor prosecutions for prostitution and possession of drug paraphernalia by itself.

    Completely stupid and wasteful.