Jerry Brown vows to produce plan for reducing inmate population

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GUANGZHOU, China -- Gov. Jerry Brown said Sunday that his administration will come up with a plan for reducing the state prison population by an additional 10,000 inmates, even as it asks the U.S. Supreme Court to block a judicial order demanding such a recommendation.

“We’ve got to come up with a plan, “ Brown told reporters on a flight here from Nanjing, part of his weeklong swing through China. Brown appeared unphased by the task, accepting the recent ruling with the combativeness of someone spoiling for a good political fight.

But he said his administration was ready to act quickly.

“They may not issue a stay,” Brown said of the Supreme Court. If that happens, state officials would be required to produce an outline by early next month for how to move thousands of felons out of state lockups. “Then we’ll have some action,” he said.


While federal judges say the state’s prisons are unconstitutionally crowded, Republican critics in Sacramento are blaming Brown’s earlier inmate reduction efforts for a number recent violent crimes. In 2011, Brown signed a law that sent new lower-level offenders to county jails instead of state prisons. That has led to inmate spikes in county jails, and many lower level offenders being released, critics say.

Among the most vocal of Brown’s detractors is Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber), who says the governor’s earlier attempts to reduce the state’s prison population have made California more dangerous. With a wry smile, the governor said Sunday he would like to hear the senator’s plans for how to keep dangerous criminals off the streets while complying with the federal court order.

“We’ll put Nielsen on the advisory committee to figure out how to deal with the 10,000,” he said.

And with that, the governor returned to his seat.


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