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Brown Uses Budget to Push for More Time on Prisons

Katie Orr, Capital Public Radio

Pelican Bay State Prison

Katie Orr, Capital Public Radio

A federal three-judg-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.

 “I’m doing everything I can to maintain the laws that we have," Brown said. "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 said 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 said his side does not support a two-year extension.

“The prisons remain severely overcrowded and dangerous," he said. "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.” 

Bien said the prisons are nearing 150 percent of capacity. Prison officials say the population currently stands at 145 percent of capacity.

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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