As a response to Governor Brown’s idiotic $315 mil privatization plan from yesterday, Senate president Steinberg and 16 other Democrat senators “proposed a plan that would spend $200 million more for each of the first two years on rehab and mental health programs to reduce the prison population by the 9,600 inmates ordered by federal judges.”

The L.A. Times reports:

“The governor’s proposal is a plan with no promise and no hope,” Steinberg said. “As the population of California grows, it’s only a short matter of time until new prison cells overflow and the court demands mass releases again. For every 10 prisoners finishing their sentences, nearly seven of them will commit another crime after release and end up back behind bars.”

Steinberg has support among Senate Democrats for a broader approach. Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) said that the plan put forward by the governor is inadequate and that he will not support it. It requires $315 million this year and $400 million in future years, said Leno, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

“That is a huge sum of money to be spent on a nonsolution,” Leno said. “I could not support a solution to the court mandate that is based only on greater capacity. And that’s all I see in this proposal, greater capacity.”

Leno said any plan should include greater effort to reduce the recidivism rate, including a revision of the sentencing structure. “If we have learned anything over the past 30 years of criminal justice policy leading to this crisis, it’s that we cannot incarcerate our way out of it,” Leno said. “It doesn’t appear that the proposal deals with the core problems that we have, which are clearly in our sentencing structure and our lack of investment in preventing recidivism.”

A huge sum of money spent on a nonsolution, indeed. I gave an interview to the Daily Journal today (link tomorrow), in which I was asked whether this new proposal from senators is a game changer. I replied there was nothing new here; all criminal justice experts who cared to offer an opinion have repeatedly been saying that building more cells and privatizing more does nothing to ameliorate the prison crisis, and in fact guarantees that we’ll have a more serious crisis for years to come. All Steinberg proposal does is suggest spending the money where it matters – in helping people not come back to prison.

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