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September 23, 2009

Gubernatorial candidates discuss California prison reforms

This front-page article from today's Sacramento Bee, which is headlined "Gubernatorial hopefuls split on California prison changes," suggests that mostly standard ideas are coming from the leading candidates looking to take over one of the most dysfunctional sentencing and prison states.  Here are the highlights from the piece:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger isn't done battling federal judges over plans to relieve California prison overcrowding. But as Schwarzenegger's last year in office approaches, much of the burden for cutting state inmate numbers will fall to the chief executive who follows him.

Schwarzenegger filed a plan last week to ease overcrowding that falls well short of a demand by a three-judge panel that he reduce the population by 40,000 inmates within two years. That means the four declared gubernatorial candidates as well as Attorney General Jerry Brown, who is widely expected to run, face questions about how they would act to fix what everyone acknowledges is a broken state corrections system.

In conversations with The Bee, they've laid out two distinct visions:

Two of the Republican candidates, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, have rejected proposals that would let inmates out early or keep some parole violators out of prison. The two have also called for building more prisons to relieve overcrowding and sending inmates to other states with surplus bed space.

On the other side are Democrat Gavin Newsom, mayor of San Francisco, and Republican Tom Campbell, a former congressman, both of whom support reworking prison and parole guidelines to divert more inmates into parole and keeping some parole violators out of prison.

Brown, in interviews with The Bee, declined to comment on specific reform proposals, saying that as attorney general he has to enforce whatever proposals become law. But in the past he has been harshly critical of a prison system that he said grew as a result of media-driven fears and profiteering by private corrections companies and prison guards.

Both he and Newsom said that reducing the state's nation-high recidivism rate – estimated at more than 70 percent – would go a long way to easing prison overcrowding. "We're simply not preparing these prisoners for life outside of the system," Newsom said, "and the issue of re-entry programs becomes critical. Therein lies our big focus, at least mine."

Whitman and Poizner, on the other hand, have tried to out-tough each other, railing against legislation passed last month by the state Senate that would have let some inmates out earlier and appointed a commission to rework state sentencing laws.

September 23, 2009 at 05:18 PM | Permalink


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Oh hey, look what's missing. ebay mom's plan to PAY FOR IT. Maybe she plans to pull a Palin and sell her airplane on ebay?

Posted by: . | Sep 23, 2009 6:17:38 PM

These judicial orders coming from little caesars on the bench are massive human experimentation by total incompetents. They are lawyers. They know nothing about corrections. There is nothing to discuss here except taking the fight to these pro-criminal incompetents. All early release inmates must be moved to halfway houses on the streets where these judges live. To deter.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 23, 2009 7:07:08 PM

Gotta love the Republicans: "We need to be fiscally responsible -- let's build more prisons and house more people in them!"

Posted by: William O. Rights | Sep 23, 2009 10:50:50 PM

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