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Governor Brown, Crime Victims, And The Elephant On The Capitol Steps

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Gov. Jerry Brown speaks to the Crime Victims United of California rally at the state Capitol Thursday.

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

When Gov. Jerry Brown joined California crime victims on the steps of the state Capitol Thursday for their annual rally, not a single speaker – not even the governor – mentioned his November ballot proposal to overhaul criminal justice sentencing.

The annual Crime Victims United of California rally is not the first place you’d expect to find support for a proposal to shorten sentences for criminals.

After organizers passed out red roses in memory of victims, the governor made no mention of his proposed ballot initiative. It would allow nonviolent inmates to be paroled after serving their basic sentences – without extra penalties known as enhancements – if they earn credits for good behavior, education and rehabilitation.

The closest he came was this: “When people are sent away, most of them do come back, depending on what their crime was. So we want to make sure they don’t come back worse.”

Crime Victims United President Nina Salarno says her group is talking with the governor’s office about how the measure might be implemented if it’s passed before taking a position.

“We’re supportive of re-entry facilities, because before, we used to give them $200 and a bus ticket,“ she said after the rally. “But the devil’s always in the details – we need to do it right.”

The governor’s office wouldn’t confirm the talks other than to say the Brown administration regularly meets with interest groups to discuss ways to better rehabilitate offenders.

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Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio