Jerry Brown says prison deal may be within reach

SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown expressed hope on Tuesday that negotiations ordered by a federal court could lead to a resolution of the state's prison crisis.

"I'm reasonably optimistic that we will come to agreement on something we can make work," Brown said, noting that he had met with the court-appointed moderator and that his senior staff has spoken to plaintiffs' attorneys who have long argued the state's prisons are illegally over capacity and that the healthcare is so bad that it violates prisoners' constitutional rights.

Brown said he is in the process of talking to wardens at all 33 state prisons to get a better grasp on the healthcare situation. The courts have given plaintiffs' attorneys and state officials until February to strike a deal.

Brown's remarks came at a Sacramento elementary school where the governor joined former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner and former Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor to promote Beutner's program to bring free eyeglasses to poor kids who need them.

Taking questions from reporters, Brown also shared his memories of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, 50 years ago this week. Brown said he was at a class at Yale Law School, and not one that he found particularly interesting, when he heard the news. "It shook my sense of how the world works, and how American works," said Brown, whose father, Pat, was governor of California and a key Kennedy ally.


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