Gov. Jerry Brown signs legislation to reduce prison overcrowding

California Gov. Jerry Brown, flanked by legislative leaders, discusses the plan to reduce prison overcrowding earlier this week.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a plan to address prison overcrowding, less than four months before the state has been ordered to reduce its prison population by thousands of inmates.

Under the terms of the bill, Brown will ask a panel of three federal judges to delay or modify their order, giving the state more time to reduce the prison population by expanding rehabilitation programs.


The goal is to use mental health and substance abuse treatment to lower the number of former inmates returning to prison for new crimes.

If the request is rejected, the bill authorizes the state to spend $315 million in the current fiscal year to relocate inmates to private prisons, county jails and other alternate facilities, lightening the load on the state’s lockups.

The formal request is expected to be submitted next week.

The state has been ordered to reduce its prison population by 9,600 inmates because the judges deemed California’s prisons to be unconstitutionally crowded. Brown has appealed the order to the U.S. Supreme Court, but in the meantime he’s taking steps to comply.



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Twitter: @chrismegerian