Gov. Schwarzenegger to Appeal Prisoner Reduction Order to U.S. Supreme Court
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has decided to seek a stay of the federal appeals court order directing California to reduce its prison population by 40,000 prisoners and appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Schwarzenegger backed a state senate bill that would have made reductions, and included provisions such as releasing elderly and severely ill prisoners, increased use of home detention for some inmates and, for low level offenders, reduced parole supervision and some minor sentencing reductions. But, the state assembly passed its own, weaker measure on Monday. [More...]
Is the Governor back-tracking?
In public, Schwarzenegger has said the state must deal with overcrowding because the prison system is "collapsing under its own weight" and contended his plan would not harm public safety.
But in the motion filed Tuesday, the governor argued that reducing the prison population as the judges have ordered would likely cause an increase in crime and strain local resources.
Or, is he taking protective measures since without an agreement between the state senate and assembly, the state won't be able to pass the legislation necessary to comply with the court order by the September 18th deadline?
In Colorado, Gov. Bill Ritter, a former prosecutor for 20 years, has smartly approved a plan to free more inmates for budgetary reasons.
The cuts that took effect Tuesday call for the release of 3,500 of the 23,000 inmates over two years, saving the state about $45 million, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti said.
An additional 2,600 parolees, or 21 percent of those currently on parole, will be released from intense supervision. Prisoners eligible for early release are those within six months of their mandatory release date. Those eligible for early parole release must have served at least half of their supervised term.
The cuts apply mostly to non-violent offenders. They are not applicable to sex offenders, and violent offenders will get greater scrutiny. Why is it smart? Other than the cost-savings:
In addition to early release, the state is implementing several recommendations by the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice aimed at helping inmates find housing and jobs and get substance abuse treatment.
In other words, by releasing offenders early and saving money on their incarceration, the state can and will supply increased support services that are likely to reduce recidivism in the long term. That's being smart about crime, not just tough on crime.
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