IVN — Governor Jerry Brown and Corrections Secretary Jeffrey Brown are in hot water with the Supreme Court. The system appears to be 9,600 inmates over the legally determined cap. They have until year’s end to make the deadline. How will the state realign inmate numbers with constitutional standards without endangering the public?
The state has formally requested a stay of the court order. Twice they have asked for more time to amend numbers and twice they have been denied. The system is currently running at approximately 150 percent capacity and will have to reduce that number to 137.5 percent by December 31 or the governor risks being held in contempt of court.
The governor released a plan to reduce the 9,600 surplus to roughly 2,000 by seeking more money to send inmates to out-of-state private prisons, expanding low-security fire-fighting camps, and leasing jail space from Los Angeles and Alameda counties, two of the most criminally active areas of California.
These are three of the governor’s politically expedient options, in addition to parole for the elderly and expansion of “good-time credits” that allow prisoners to earn days of freedom through good behavior.
Average inmates earn one day of freedom for every day without an infraction, violent inmates one day for every two, and fire-fighting inmates two for every one. Expanding this program, as federal judges have ordered the governor to do, would likely mean a broader definition of both “good behavior” and “low-risk.”
Corrections Secretary Jeffrey Beard has stated that there simply aren’t any more low-risk offenders to release. Chuck Alexander, vice president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA), confirmed that for as long as he’s worked in the department, California isn’t incarcerating traditionally “low-risk” offenders. continue reading...