California Gov. Jerry Brown's prison policy is forcing a split personality with federal courts.
Brown on Tuesday repeated his insistence he will take no move to further reduce prison crowding unless ordered (again) to do so, and he included no money for prison leases and other proposals in his 2013-14 state budget.
At the same time, Brown's administration officials told a panel of federal judges Wednesday the governor is working behind the scenes on that very legislation.
"Defendants are drafting legislative language for these measures, which will delineate potential changes to state law to: (1) increase certain prison credits; (2) expand the eligibility criteria for medical parole; (3) establish a parole process for low-risk elderly inmates; (4) obtain a legislative appropriation of funds to lease jail capacity from counties with available capacity; and (5) obtain a legislative appropriation of funds to slow the rate of returning inmates housed out-of-state to California," Diana Toche, acting undersecretary of administration and offender services for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said in a signed declaration to the court.
"Once this language has been drafted, defendants will submit it to the Legislature for its consideration, and will report to the court on any specific actions taken by the Legislature."
Assembly and Senate Democratic leaders already have gone on record saying they oppose any increase in state prison spending, while Republicans are urging Brown to spend money expanding the facilities the state already has. Outside advocates, meanwhile, are criticizing Brown for not using the prison crisis to push changes in the state's criminal sentencing laws.