SACRAMENTO – Standing alongside law enforcement, local government officials and victims’ advocates today, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff and Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway announced legislation to comply with a federal court order to limit state prison population to 137.5 percent of capacity, avoid the early release of thousands of prisoners and protect public safety. The legislation will immediately expand prison capacity and require the state to develop additional longer-term solutions with stakeholders to address capacity needs, prison population levels and recidivism rates.
“This legislation will protect public safety and give us time to work with public officials and interested parties to make thoughtful changes in the overall criminal justice system,” said Governor Brown.
“This process will leave no stone unturned as we investigate what can work to make improvements,” Speaker Pérez said. “We will consider every option from updating sentencing laws; to giving local governments and law enforcement the necessary tools. And certainly we will examine broader policy questions that prevent crime, like improving education from preschool to higher education and on programs that break the cycle of poverty.”
“Senate Republicans stand ready to support the Governor’s proposals because we believe the safety of California families should be our first and foremost priority,” said Senator Huff. “Our caucus introduced a number of these ideas earlier this year and we believe today’s announcement is a critical step to keep California families safe. Without immediate action, a federal judicial ruling will force the early release of tens of thousands of dangerous criminals from state prisons, and that is simply unacceptable.”
“Earlier this year, Republicans sent a letter to Gov. Brown outlining solutions to avoid the early release of criminals onto our streets. I would like to thank the Governor for including some of those ideas in the package he is calling for the Legislature to adopt. While today’s announcement helps address the prison crisis in the short term, there’s still more work to be done to address the challenges in the criminal justice system. We will continue to work with the Governor and the Speaker to find sustainable solutions that will honor the court’s demands, while keeping Californians safe,” said Assembly Republican Leader Conway.
A federal court has ordered California to comply by December 31, 2013 with a cap on the number of inmates in state prisons.
The legislation would sunset in three years and allow the state to access additional prison capacity to prevent early release of inmates. Specifically, the legislation authorizes the Secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to:
• Expeditiously lease in-state and out-of-state prison capacity, including county jails, and contract with community corrections facilities;
• Suspend the closure of the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, CA;
• Allocate up to $315 million for implementation.
The state has already drastically reduced the prison population by more than 40,000 inmates since 2006. More than half of that reduction has come since 2011 when the state implemented Realignment (AB 109). The state has also spent more than $1 billion on medical and mental health care upgrades, including the 1,700 bed health care facility in Stockton.
Joining the Governor and legislative leaders today were representatives from the California State Sheriffs’ Association, Peace Officers Research Association of California, California Police Chiefs Association, Chief Probation Officers of California, California Correctional Peace Officers Association, California Highway Patrol, California District Attorneys Association, California State Association of Counties, League of California Cities, Crime Victims Action Alliance and Crime Victims United.