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Assembly Democrats block prison realignment reforms

April 02, 2013|By Paige St. John

Assembly Democrats continued Tuesday to bat down legislation they see as weakening Gov. Jerry Brown's prison realignment program, including a bill that would return sex offenders who violate parole to state prison.

"We are tweaking a flawed program," said Assemblyman Eric Linder (R-Corona), whose bill mirrored a similar measure already voted down by the Public Safety Committee that would have allowed judges to return to prison sex offenders who violate parole.

"I do think it's a little early in the game. I'm not saying there couldn't be real tweaks," said committee Chairman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), before leading a 2-4 vote to block Linder's bill. He noted that California is giving counties money to address the local impacts of prison realignment.

The 2011 realignment bill gave counties responsibility for jailing low-level felons who formerly went to prison, and as well required them to house state parole violators. Judges in some counties with overcrowded jails have adopted policies to release those parole violators from jail early, including sex offenders who increasingly are removing their state-issued GPS trackers.

Supporters of Linder's bill included John Lovell of the California Police Chiefs Assn. "We need to look at teachable moments" and adjust the prison depopulation program accordingly, Lovell said. "If this program is to succeed we need to constantly look at revisions that are needed."

The ACLU opposed the bill. "Slow creep" legislation that repeals the program responsible for the greatest reductions in California's teeming prison population is likely to exacerbate crowding and tempt sanctions from federal judges who have ordered the state to reduce it, said ACLU lobbyist Kim Horiuchi.

paige.stjohn@latimes.com

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