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Court order on prison crowding mirrors proposals by Darrell Steinberg

September 25, 2013|By Paige St. John
  • State Senate leader Darrell Steinberg asked federal judges to consider ordering the state to explore other prison options.
State Senate leader Darrell Steinberg asked federal judges to consider… (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated…)

SACRAMENTO -- A federal court order for California to entertain alternative options to reduce prison crowding echoes a set of solutions proposed just one day earlier by Senate leader Darrell Steinberg.

In a letter sent to federal judges Monday, Steinberg (D-Sacramento) provided a framework for following Gov. Jerry Brown's plan, suggesting California be required to reduce prison crowding by Dec. 31 to 145% of what the prisons were designed to hold -- a goal the state has said it can reach by moving 2,500 prisoners into private facilities.

He suggested a series of increasingly lower caps each year after that, until the state hits the judges' original target of 137.5% by the end of 2016.

However, the Senate leader also proposed the judges order discussions about other measures to reduce the state's prison population, including reviewing California's incarceration of federal immigration detainees and increasing resources to speed up the parole hearings of juvenile offenders and lifers.

Those ideas were among issues the federal judges, giving California a 30-day extension, on Tuesday ordered the state to discuss with prisoners' lawyers.

"The Court may be further informed by ordering the parties to provide input on these specific steps," Steinberg wrote. "I am optimistic that the parties would find conceptual agreement that these proposals would reduce overcrowding in a manner more durable than adding temporary bed capacity.

"Moreover, many of these remedies could be put into place relatively quickly."


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On Twitter: @paigestjohn

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