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Court Grants Fraction of Brown’s Stay Request

September 25, 2013
The three federal judge-panel convened to oversee the reduction of California’s prison population granted Gov. Jerry Brown’s request for an extension this week – with one ‘small’ caveat.
Instead of the two-year extension initially requested, the court granted a 27-day stay as part of a meet-and-confer order to determine a plan for compliance on a potentially longer timeframe.      
The state is currently in negotiations with inmate representatives following a 2010 court order requiring the prison population be reduced to 137.5 percent of design capacity (roughly 40,000 inmates according to the Legislative Analyst Office). In response to the order, Gov. Brown and state attorneys appealed and have been in and out of court ever since. As a direct result of the court order, legislation was enacted in 2011 outlining a public safety realignment plan. Under provisions of AB 109, the state adult offender population was reduced by about 25,000 as inmate housing and monitoring responsibilities were “realigned” from the state to local governments.
Gov. Brown has continuously expressed concerns over the court ordered requirements, stating they are dangerous to the public safety of all Californians. In a good faith effort to adhere to the order’s overall goal of significant inmate population reduction, Brown sought action to terminate the lawsuit and transfer oversight responsibilities from a federal receiver to the state. Earlier this spring, however, the court denied Brown’s motion.           
The state filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court following the California Supreme Court’s denial. The appeal requested an additional two years for the state to fulfill the order’s requirements as new legislation was being introduced. The Governor’s prison population reduction plan, in the form of SB 105 (Steinberg), was passed this year by the Legislature and immediately signed by Brown. As previously reported, the League strongly supports Gov. Brown’s prison plan and believes it is the best available option to safely reduce California’s inmate population without threatening public safety.
Now a California Supreme Court Justice has been appointed as a facilitator and must report to the judicial panel on the meetings of the parties by Oct. 21.  A moratorium on out-of-state contracts to house inmates has been imposed in the meantime. The state’s deadline to comply with the court-order has now been extended from Dec. 31, 2013 to Jan. 27, 2014 pending the outcome of meet-and-confer discussions.   

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