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Skelton: Prison plan a victory for Jerry Brown

September 12, 2013
  • Gov. Jerry Brown, center, discusses a plan to reduce prison overcrowding on Monday in the Capitol.
Gov. Jerry Brown, center, discusses a plan to reduce prison overcrowding… (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated…)

Chalk up another victory for Gov. Jerry Brown, George Skelton writes in his Thursday column.

All the top lawmakers are on board with his plan to meet a court order to reduce prison crowding, giving him a clear path to avoid any early releases in the coming months.

"There'll be no Willie Horton on his watch," Skelton writes.

The deal on prisons was finalized after negotiations with Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), who balked at spending more money on private prisons without new funding for rehabilitation programs. Now the state will ask the court for more time to expand drug treatment and mental health care.

If an extension isn't granted, the state will have to rely on Brown's original plan to relocate inmates to private prisons, county jails and other facilities.

There's also a possibility that California will put fewer criminals behind bars for lengthy prison sentences.

Earlier in the week, Skelton wrote that lawmakers have been "retreating a bit from the decades-long war on drugs." For example, a bill under consideration would allow prosecutors to consider possession of cocaine and heroin as a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

The bill, Skelton writes, "provides two new weapons in the war on drugs: compassion and common sense."


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