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Government & Politics

Brown Uses Budget to Push for More Time on Prisons

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California remains under a court order to reduce its prison population. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, Governor Jerry Brown is trying to use his budget to get the state some more time.

A federal three judge panel has given California until the middle of April to reduce is prison population to about 137 percent of capacity.  But Brown is basing several items in his budget on the assumption California will get a two-year extension of that deadline. Brown has long maintained the state has done enough to reduce prison overcrowding.

Brown: “I’m doing everything I can to maintain the laws that we have. But where the court is absolutely insistent, you know, I respond. And that’s what we’re doing.”

Brown is allocating $81 million toward programs that reduce recidivism. He says that money will have to be reconsidered if the extension is not granted.

Attorney Michael Bien represents inmates in the case that led to the population reduction order. He says his side does not support a two year extension.

Bien: “The prisons remain severely overcrowded and dangerous. Prisons are unable to deliver constitutional medical mental health care. There are substantial problems with crowding that continue. And, what’s very concerning is the population is back edging up. In other words, crowding is getting worse.”

The state will immediately begin paroling more low-risk inmates. But corrections officials acknowledge that won’t be enough to comply with the court’s order.

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