Prison plan would avoid any releases, Brown says

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SACRAMENTO — California will not release a single inmate early to meet a court order to reduce prison crowding, Gov. Jerry Brown and top lawmakers pledged Tuesday.

Instead, the state plans to lease extra beds for inmates in private prisons and city-owned jails. The proposal is expected to cost $315 million in the current fiscal year, which would be drawn from a $1- billion reserve fund.

Brown did not specify where the inmates would be held, but said officials have found enough space.


“This is the sensible, prudent way to proceed,” he said.

The cost of the plan is estimated at $415 million in each of the next two years, according to Brown’s Department of Finance.

The state has been ordered to reduce its prison population by 9,600 inmates by the end of the year because a panel of three federal judges says the lockups are unconstitutionally crowded.

The governor was flanked Tuesday by law enforcement officials, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) and Republican leaders Sen. Bob Huff of Diamond Bar and Assemblywoman Connie Conway of Tulare.

Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) was not there and has not signed on to the plan, which will complicate efforts to push it through the Legislature.

“The governor’s proposal is a plan with no promise and no hope,” he said in a statement shortly after Brown’s news conference ended.

Steinberg is pushing for more funding for mental health care.

Brown and Pérez promised that they would consider more long-term solutions for changing the criminal justice system. However, they emphasized that the state needs to pay for new beds for inmates now to prevent any from being released early to comply with the court order.


“We are not, any of us, willing to release an additional single prisoner,” Pérez said.


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Twitter: @chrismegerian