Prisons Battle Heats Up at California Capitol
California Senate Democrats have approved their own plan to deal with the federal court order to reduce prison overcrowding. They pushed their proposal through the Senate Budget Committee today over the objections of Republicans and Governor Jerry Brown.
Corrections Secretary Jeff Beard lobbied strongly for Brown’s plan, known as Senate Bill 105. It would increase capacity by contracting out beds from county, private and out-of-state facilities.
“We’re very concerned that if Senate Bill 105 is not passed, that what’s gonna happen is, we’re then gonna be left with having to early release inmates – which none of us, as we’ve all said, want to do,” said Beard.
That prompted a heated response from Democratic Budget Chair Mark Leno:
“To say that if we don’t pass SB 105 in a timely fashion means that there will be early release is a fundamental disagreement, because we believe there is another option out there,” said Leno.
Instead of increasing prison capacity, Senate Democrats support mental health and substance abuse programs that they say will reduce California’s nearly 70 percent recidivism rate.