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November 14, 2009

California submits new plan for complying with federal prison-population order

As detailed in this Los Angeles Times article, which is headlined "Governor submits plan to cut prison population: But he also disavows the proposed solutions as being illegal," California's "Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday gave federal judges a road map to reducing state prison overcrowding by waiving some state laws to allow sentences to be reduced and new private prisons to be built." Here are more of the particulars:

An initial plan that Schwarzenegger submitted in September was rejected three weeks ago by the three judges, who threatened him with contempt of court for failing to meet their demand for a proposal to reduce the inmate population by 40,000 prisoners over two years.

With his new proposal, the governor appeared to be trying to avoid open defiance of the judges without giving the impression that he is contradicting his opposition to their efforts in an appeal now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. The state is arguing that it is improper for the federal courts to intrude into the state's affairs. "We're saying the court . . . doesn't have the authority to do any of this, but the court obviously disagrees with us," Matthew Cate, the governor's prisons chief, told reporters.

The governor said the new plan would open up a total of 42,000 prison beds by December 2011, some through new construction and some by sentencing changes to limit the number of inmates the state incarcerates. He heeded the judges' Oct. 21 order to identify state laws that they would need to suspend to meet their goal. But Schwarzenegger also told the judges he did not believe it would be legal for them to waive those laws....

Some of the governor's new plan echoes what he submitted previously: reduction in the inmate population through sentencing changes, which would need approval by lawmakers, and construction for which the state already has authority. But it also includes measures, accounting for more than 25,000 inmates, that the Legislature rejected during the budget fight last summer: home detention with satellite tracking devices for some inmates; permitting some felony offenders to serve time in county jails instead of state prisons; and reducing sentences for property crimes.

As I have noted before, the blog California Corrections Crisis is the must-read resource for keeping up with all the craziness in California.

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November 14, 2009 at 02:52 PM | Permalink

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