A statewide coalition of human rights groups Thursday urged Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown to devise a plan to comply with a federal court order to reduce the California prison population by 44,000 rather than delay the inevitable by appealing it.

Activists who support sentencing reform and broader rehabilitative efforts delivered letters to Brown's offices in Los Angeles, Oakland and Sacramento saying that the California Assembly has shown itself unable "to put reason over politics" to craft a plan to ease overcrowding so severe that the courts have said it violates inmates' constitutional rights.

Californians United for a Responsible Budget pointed to a National Council on Crime and Delinquency study that found early release programs such as the ones proposed in the Assembly but mired in political wrangling don't jeopardize public safety.

Brown said after the court order was issued that he would appeal it. He has until Sept. 3 to file notice that he will do so.

-- Carol J. Williams

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