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Brown proposes prison reduction planSACRAMENTO, Calif. — California is in danger of violating the first courtordered deadline for cutting its prison population unless lawmakers pass Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax plan, state officials said Tuesday.
Corrections chief Matthew Cate said the state must immediately begin overhauling the prison system to meet a November deadline to lower its head count by more than 10,000 inmates. But without funding from the Legislature for Brown’s proposal to shift responsibility for some prisoners to county jurisdictions, the state cannot take action, he said.If the state finds itself with no money and no viable backup plan, the courts have the authority to order felons released, Cate noted. “We are out of time and out of room,” he said. Without the funding, “we’re in trouble.”
The November benchmark is the first of four that were set in motion late last month when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a ruling requiring the state to shed roughly 33,000 inmates over the next two years because of severe overcrowding.Brown wants the state to pay counties to house low-level offenders in jails rather than state prisons, but his plan depends on the renewal of sales and vehicle tax increases that are set to expire July 1. The governor and lawmakers are still trying to hammer out a deal on the levies.
“If we don’t get the taxes, we will have serious problems with our criminal justice system,” Brown said Last week Brown said he might request more time to comply with the overcrowding order, a move the courts have signaled they would be open to, but so far he has not.Instead, it appears, the Brown administration is using the potential threat to public safety to pressure Republican legislators into voting for his proposed tax extensions.
Page Updated: Sunday June 12, 2011 01:42 AM Pacific
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