AP — Gov. Jerry Brown and the four leaders of California's Legislature reached a compromise Monday on reducing the state's prison population, offering to spend more money on rehabilitation efforts if a panel of federal judges will extend an end-of-the-year deadline to release thousands of inmates.
The deal relies on the state persuading three federal judges to give California time to let rehabilitation programs work rather than spend $315 million to lease cells in private prisons and county jails.
The leaders agreed that if the judges don't extend the deadline, the state will fall back on Brown's plan to lease the cells.
"There's insurance here against early release" of prisoners, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said at a news conference outside the governor's office, where he was joined by the governor and Democratic and Republican leaders of each chamber.
Steinberg had opposed Brown's plan and wanted to ask the judges to delay the deadline for three years while the state gave counties $200 million annually for drug, mental health and other rehabilitation programs.
The agreement reached Monday resolves the impasse as lawmakers race toward the end of the legislative session this week.
The three-judge panel ordered the state to lower its prison population by about 9,600 inmates by year's end. Brown is appealing that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the justices recently declined to delay the deadline set by the lower court. continue reading...