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Gov. Jerry Brown says 'stimulating' realignment program is working

Crime, Law and JusticeCrimeJerry BrownJustice SystemPoliticsMike Gatto

SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown, citing his meetings with law enforcement officials across the state, said Tuesday that "realignment is working."

Brown, speaking to reporters after he addressed the annual Crime Victims' Rights rally at the Capitol, called the realignment program, in which low-level felons are kept in county jails rather than sent to prisons, "encouraging and stimulating."

"I've talked to district attorneys, I've talked to police chiefs, I've talked to sheriffs," Brown said. "I will continue going to counties in California. And I can report, not just on my say-so, but by the people in the field--probation, mental health, sheriffs that run jails--that realignment is working."

He also said that prison overcrowding is "far from" a settled issue for the state.

"Every day we struggle with how to manage the population restraints that had been imposed by the federal courts," Brown said. "But we're on track and that too has led to some creative responses, [like] realignment, but also some new programming that has been financed by the Legislature."

Brown's address to the crime victims did not delve deeply into criminal justice policy. Instead, he praised the advocates for making their personal stories, including photos of their loved ones, visible to policymakers.

Because laws apply generally to the state's entire population, they can be "very abstract," Brown said. "It's bloodless."

"But when you come here and when you show us the pictures of real human beings who were your loved ones, who were murdered, then it isn't abstract. It's very real," he said.

Several lawmakers also addressed the group, including Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), whose father was murdered in November.

Gatto said he had never intended to join the "brotherhood" of crime victims. "It is the one group in life that you never really seek to join, but which finds you," he said.

He thanked the rally attendees for "embracing this unwitting role," by becoming an advocate for crime victims.

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melanie.mason@latimes.com

@melmason

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