Stopping Our Prisons’ Revolving Door

If California is serious about reducing its prison population, one crucial component will have to be reducing recidivism. Currently, a lot of the state's inmates are men and women who've been in prison more than once. They get out, they have little training or education, they can't get jobs and, in many cases, they return to lives of crime and find themselves back behind bars. But a major new study of correctional education in U.S. state prisons suggests there are things California could do … [Read more...]

Gov. Jerry Brown Wins Big on Prison Crowding Compromise

Any way you score it, the compromise legislation on California prison crowding is another sweet victory for Gov. Jerry Brown. The governor, in fact, hasn't suffered a major defeat at the Capitol in two years. Credit four factors: Fellow Democrats control the place. Budget bills now require only a simple majority vote. Brown carefully picks his shots, focusing on just one or two issues at a time. He's not exactly a rookie. He's 3-for-3 on big at-bats in the Legislature this … [Read more...]

Feds Probe LA County Jails, Again

Federal authorities have opened a civil rights probe into whether Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies have engaged in a pattern of abuse of inmates, according to a letter sent to county officials this week. The so-called pattern or practice investigation marks a new level of scrutiny for the nation's largest jail system, which is the subject of an ongoing FBI criminal investigation into allegations of excessive force and other misconduct. The letter, sent from the Justice Department's … [Read more...]

California Cites ‘Massive Prisoner Release’ in Supreme Court Appeal

California lawyers late Friday filed the state's full appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the high court to set aside orders to reduce prison crowding by the end of December. Despite the state's contention that it intends to meet the prison population cap by leasing added prison space, the appeal raises the public safety threat of "a massive prisoner release." The appeal cites the great progress the state has made in improving medical and mental health care of inmates. It says the … [Read more...]

Californians Would Go Further than Gov. Brown to Cut Prison Crowding

Most California voters are willing to take more drastic steps than Gov. Jerry Brown favors to reduce prison crowding, including the early release of nonviolent offenders, but they don't want to sacrifice public safety to reduce the inmate population, according to a new poll. Support for softened penalties comes as Brown is fighting an order from a panel of federal judges to continue shrinking the number of inmates in state prisons. He says California has done enough and any more changes could … [Read more...]

War on Drugs: The ‘Wobbler’ Option

Simple possession of small amounts of methamphetamine — enough for personal use but presumably not for dealing — is a "wobbler" in California, meaning that offenses can be charged as either felonies or misdemeanors. It's different with possession of cocaine, opiates such as heroin and many other addictive drugs; they currently can be charged only as felonies. The state Senate has now passed a bill to bring criminal handling of those drugs into line with methamphetamine, and the measure is … [Read more...]

L.A. Unified Bans Suspension for ‘Willful Defiance’

In ground-breaking action, the Los Angeles Unified school board voted Tuesday to ban suspensions of defiant students, directing officials to use alternative disciplinary practices instead. The packed board room erupted in cheers after the 5-2 vote to approve the proposal, which made L.A. Unified the first school district in the state to ban defiance as grounds for suspension. The action comes amid mounting national concern that removing students from school is imperiling their academic … [Read more...]

Maldonado’s ‘Early Release’ Repeal Targets Wrong Offenders

Abel Maldonado made it clear that his campaign against Gov. Jerry Brown's prison realignment program is about stopping criminals like Jerome Rogers, the 57-year-old transient accused of killing an elderly San Bernardino County woman. There is just one problem: Rogers was never part of the governor's shift of state felons to county control. The accused killer had a long history of crimes dating back to the 1970s, including a rape and the sodomy of a 14-year-old. But Rogers was released from … [Read more...]

Governor Jerry Brown’s ‘Ugly’ Prison Plan

Under threat of contempt of court, Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled a plan to ease prison crowding by releasing certain inmates early, sending others to county jails and relocating some to state fire camps — but added that he doesn't support it. Although the plan would remove thousands of inmates from California's packed prisons, it would not meet court requirements to lower the population by more than 9,000. The jurists could order more inmates freed if they find the governor's plan … [Read more...]