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Maldonado uses 'early release' to spur ballot drive against Brown

May 08, 2013|By Paige St. John
  • Abel Maldonado, who is contemplating a run for governor, on Wednesday kicked off a ballot initiative that would undo Gov. Jerry Brown's prison realignment plan.
Abel Maldonado, who is contemplating a run for governor, on Wednesday kicked… (Paige St. John / Los Angeles…)

Conceding there is a "pretty good shot" he'll run for governor, Abel Maldonado on Wednesday kicked off a ballot drive that targets Gov. Jerry Brown's handling of prison crowding, labeling it the thing Brown's administration has worked hard to avoid: "early release."

"Today willl be the beginning [of the] end of early release," Maldonado declared at a news conference staged on the windy rooftop of a Sacramento parking garage, the state Capitol framed behind him.

The former lieutenant governor is chairing a signature-gathering drive to put an initiative on the 2014 ballot that would roll back Brown's prison realignment plan, AB109. He acknowledged Wednesday he does not yet have the financial backing to run a statewide signature drive, but said "angel donors" are expected. Nor does he yet have his own plan to address prison crowding, but Maldonado said it would likely include expansion and construction of new lockups.

Brown's 2011 prison legislation, in response to federal court orders to reduce prison crowding, requires counties to house lower-level felons and parole violators who in the past would have done that time in prison. In areas where those jails are full, that has led to early jail releases.

As a result, Maldonado insists, violent crime is on the rise in California. He cited individual crimes committed by felons who had served their full sentences in state prison and under AB109 were discharged to local probation instead of state parole. They include Jerome Rogers, a transient San Bernardino man accused of murder in the death of a 76-year-old woman. Rogers has plead not guilty.

Maldonado's news conference attracted a representative from the Brown administration. Corrections department spokesman Jeffrey Callison took issue with Maldonado's use of the term "early release."

"Right now, it's quite simple," Callison said. "There is no early release program called realignment. Realignment is not an early release program. There are no early releases as part of it."

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