The Assembly bill would reduce the inmate population by 17-thousand this year. That’s about ten-thousand inmates - and 220 million dollars in savings – shy of a plan adopted by the Senate.
The Assembly measure allows inmates to more quickly earn credits for good behavior. It also allows some offenders to have less parole supervision. All GOP lawmakers opposed it, citing public safety concerns. Republican Assemblyman Joel Anderson:
“I don’t want your state-sanctioned jailbreak in my backyard. It’s that clear.”
Lawmakers are tasked with cutting hundreds of millions from the prison system as part of the recent state budget deal. Independent Assemblyman and former Democrat Juan Arambula pointed out that the money has to come from somewhere:
"Where do we get the hundreds of millions of dollars? From education? From local law enforcement? Or public health? You pick. Because if we don’t make a decision to reduce costs in corrections, given our budget, it will come out of somewhere.”
Democratic Assembly Speaker Karen Bass says she doesn’t expect the Senate to take up the Assembly plan just yet. In order to get the bill passed, she removed the most controversial provisions, including one that allowed some inmates to serve the last year of their sentences at home. But now she’s trying to work out a deal on those provisions separately. Governor Schwarzenegger supports the Senate version. Meantime, a federal panel of judges has ordered the state to figure out how to reduce the inmate population by more than 40-thousand inmates over the next two years…and the state’s running short on time to come up with its plan for doing that.