The State Senate Democratic Caucus lead by Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg are pushing for an alternative to the prison cell expansion outlined by Governor Jerry Brown.
Steinberg said Wednesday that the Governor’s plan doesn’t solve the problem of prison over-crowding the caused the courts to order the release of 10,000 prison inmates by December.
The Governor’s plan would spend $715 million over two years to acquire more prison cells to satisfy the a court order. But Steinberg says the money would be wasted because it doesn’t do anything about the core problem of repeat offenders.
Instead, Senate Democrats want to spend $400 million to fund local rehab programs that have been proven to work. Senator Mark Leno authored a bill that created such programs that kept 9,600 ex-cons from going back to prison.
The catch to the Steinberg plan is that it requires a settlement with the courts and the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that spawned the court order. That settlement mush include postponing the December release deadline for three years. Backers of the Governor’s plan say that’s not guaranteed and time is short to avoid prisoner releases.
Both sides want a plan in place before the legislative session is over in two weeks.