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Brown Releases Plan to Ease Prison Overcrowding

Katie Orr
Capital Public Radio

Thousands of California inmates may be transferred to other facilities in an effort to ease prison overcrowding. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, the plan comes after multiple federal court orders.

To be clear, Governor Jerry Brown doesn’t think California needs to do any more to ease prison overcrowding. He notes the inmate population has dropped by 45,000 since 2006.  But multiple federal judges were not convinced and repeatedly ordered the state to further reduce overcrowding. That could happen by releasing inmates or finding more space.

But Brown says he really only had one option.

“The only way to comply with that, consistent with public safety, consistent with maintaining the reforms we’ve already introduced is to purchase additional capacity. That’s the plan," says Brown.

The initial cost of Brown’s plan will be $315 million to lease additional cell space. About 8,000 inmates will be transferred from state prisons to other facilities. Brown estimates the ultimate cost will be in the billions. 

Still, he has a lot of supporters in the legislature. The Republican leaders of the Senate and the Assembly back his plan. So does Democratic Assembly Speaker John Perez.

“We are not, any of us, willing to release an additional single prisoner," says Perez.

But one key supporter is missing, Democratic Senate President Darrel Steinberg. Without his support, it may be tough to get the plan through the legislature. Still, Perez vows it will be passed by the time the session ends in Mid-September.

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