Old Jerry Tries to Fix Young Jerry’s Mistake

Old JerryHang around long enough and you might see things turn full circle. People included.

Like a comet, they come back around.

Last week, he proposed a new reform: Scrap that 1970s reform and return to basically the way things had been for six decades before.

Gov. Jerry Brown is a comet. He dominated the Capitol cosmos two generations ago, floated off and circled back.

Now one of the major public policy issues of 40 years ago also has returned, meteor-like. It concerns criminal sentencing.

Like too many things involving government, however, the jargon is wonky: “determinate” and “indeterminate.”

Put simply, it’s about whether a judge determines how long a felon will be locked up, or left undetermined, with parole boards having the flexibility to retain or release an inmate based on behavior and perceived rehabilitation.

In 1976, young Gov. Brown was a reformer who signed legislation changing sentencing from indeterminate to determinate.

george-skeltonLast week, he proposed a new reform: Scrap that 1970s reform and return to basically the way things had been for six decades before.

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George Skelton
Los Angeles Times

About George Skelton

Political columnist George Skelton has covered government and politics for The Times since 1974. Through the years he has been a political writer in Los Angeles, Sacramento bureau chief and White House correspondent. He has written a column on Sacramento politics, "Capitol Journal," since 1993. Prior to joining The Times, he was the Sacramento bureau manager for United Press International. His other jobs include political writer for The Sacramento Union, state capital writer and sports writer for United Press International, and local government reporter for the Sunnyvale (Calif.) Daily Standard. He received a bachelor's degree in journalism in 1959 from San Jose State College in San Jose, Calif. A Santa Barbara native, he is married and has three daughters.

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