Though he has no money in the state budget yet to follow through, Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a three-year deal with a private prison contractor that allows the state to continue keeping more than 8,200 inmates out of state.
The contract extension with Corrections Corp. of America was announced Wednesday.
It gives Brown the latitude to continue his previously announced plans to stop sending inmates out of state by 2016, or change his mind and use those private prisons to absorb at least some of the overflow from the state's crowded prisons.
"The plan was always to continue the contract with CCA through 2016," corrections spokesman Jeffrey Callison said.
Brown is under pressure from federal courts to reduce the number of inmates in the state's 33 prisons by about 9,600 inmates, releasing them early if need be. The governor is appealing that order before the U.S. Supreme Court, but in the meantime, continues to follow the current order. On Wednesday, that meant providing the judges with a list of state laws and regulations that would have to be waived in order to begin prison releases.
Brown's lawyers on Wednesday asked the judges for "clarification" on whether the governor can spend money without approval of the Legislature, and whether the state can create or expand parole programs also without legislative approval.