Sunday, November 23, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Rejected spending and the prison crisis

TomEliasW

By
From page A12 | August 30, 2013 |

For every action, goes the law of both physics and politics, there is a reaction, a consequence.

Now it seems more and more that a decision by Gov. Jerry Brown may have led directly to new demands for convict releases he calls a public danger, demands now backed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Brown’s aides say he will continue pursuing an appeal of the order by three federal judges demanding the state’s prison population be cut by at least 9,600 inmates before year’s end. The idea is to to bring prisons down to 137 percent of the system’s designed capacity. Given the glacial pace of court actions, it’s almost certain some prisoners will be let go – or else Brown will be held in contempt of court, with a constitutional crisis possibly ensuing.

Brown warns that the more than 24,000-prisoner reduction already made via his “realignment” program used up much of the pool of “harmless” convicts, so cutting more inmates may lead to many new crimes.

He lays any responsibility for that at the feet of the judges, saying the state moved mountains to relieve the overcrowding top courts find unconstitutional. Yet, prisoners now bunk in jammed gymnasiums and other open spaces, lack adequate room for exercise and get inferior medical care, the judges found repeatedly.

But Brown says there’s been considerable improvement, citing the recent opening of an almost $1 billion Central Valley medical facility as one sign of progress.

Republicans respond that the state has not done nearly all it could have to solve the prison overcrowding crisis, and that Brown is largely responsible.

“This crisis was entirely foreseeable and the state plan to address it was disregarded by the governor and legislative Democrats,” state Senate Republican leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar told Bloomberg News.

That’s also the stance of Abel Maldonado, who makes the alleged danger from upcoming prisoner releases the centerpiece of his nascent campaign for the Republican nomination to oppose Brown next year.

The key Brown decision they point to came shortly after his most recent election in 2010, when he opted not to spend the vast majority of more than $7 billion in lease-revenue bonds for prison construction previously okayed by legislators and ex-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Even that amount was less than the $11 billion in prison-building bonds Schwarzenegger proposed in 2006.

Brown, seeking ways to balance an out-of-control budget, took a skinflint approach, opting for the realignment program that sees many so-called “low-level” felons of a type previously sent to state prisons now staying in county jails, while some county prisoners are turned loose. Barely one-fifth of the authorized lease-revenue bond money has so far been spent.

So when Brown says he’s done everything conceivable to prevent the new prisoner release, that’s not quite so: Money was available for a 53,000-bed building program if he had wanted to do it. Realignment was cheaper.

Now, even after the nation’s highest court upheld the previous prisoner-release order, Brown Administration officials assert they don’t want to release many more inmates. They’ve had an emergency plan in place for months to some release elderly and sick convicts before their terms expire, lease private prison space, mostly in other states (there is some doubt about their authority to do this), and possibly build some prison additions. Current estimates indicate this would still mean about 1,000 early releases.

It’s an open question whether any of this would be in play if Brown had been able to show judges new prisons were coming.

What’s evident is that top judges are not buying Brown’s argument, first stated to reporters in January: “After decades of work, the job is now complete. Our prisons are not overcrowded.”

They accuse the governor of dragging his heels, saying they have repeatedly restrained themselves from citing him for contempt of court.

Something’s going to give, most likely by year’s end, and doomsayers predict a surge in crime.

Whatever happens, one thing is clear: Things could look very different today had Brown suppressed his well-known cheapskate tendencies and chosen to spend the money earmarked for this problem before it became a crisis.

— Email Thomas Elias at tdelias@aol.com. His book, “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It,” is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, go to www.californiafocus.net.

Comments

comments

.

News

Hollywood readies its big guns for the holidays

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Need for local foster parents grows

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

 
Tactical robot decreases officer risks

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Berkeley, Santa Cruz students protest fee hikes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Couple arrested on drug, firearm possession charges

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

Woman confronts suspicious follower

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Bob Dunning: Signs, signs, everywhere a sign

By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

For the record

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

 
Auction-bound student artwork stolen in downtown heist

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

UCD awarded $100M to lead program to predict, prevent pandemic threats

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
Breakfast with Santa tickets are going fast

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Probationers, parolees graduate from Yolo transitional program

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Free boot camp, yoga fundraiser this week

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Enterprise observes holiday hours

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Bell-ringers still needed this holiday season

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Give blood and get a free movie ticket

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Thanksgiving feast is open to all

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Workshop will answer financial aid questions

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Yolo Food Bank invites locals to run with the flock

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Museum announces holiday schedule

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

At the Pond: Stop, look and listen

By Jean Jackman | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Round up at the registers for Davis schools

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Project Linus seeks donations

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

 
Swing your partner!

By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A6

Fairfield School enjoys a festive feast

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Right at home: gifts you can use and use up

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Dec. 10 jeans drive benefits STEAC

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A9

 
Davis Community Church history recounted in Sunday talk

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Open your heart

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Bob Hope interview pulled from ‘the vault’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12

.

Forum

There’s only one way to fix this

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Students barking up the wrong tree

By Our View | From Page: A14

Rick McKee cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A14

 
Heartbroken over treatment of teacher

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A14, 1 Comment

Google, tell me. Is my son a genius?

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A14

 
Daryl Cagle cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A15

Cordial political discourse: Seven years later, the thoughts resonate

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A15

 
Easing the stress during college application season

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A15

How I want to be remembered

By Marion Franck | From Page: A16

 
Watch out for holiday weight gain

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A16

 
When the computer stares back

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A16

.

Sports

Turnovers costly as UC Davis loses Classic, 41-30

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Aggie men finish off Furman

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Upset-minded Lions bounce UCD from WWPA tourney

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
New, old-look helmets not enough to lift UCD footballers

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Late shot sinks Aggie women

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
UCD roundup: Seniors play well in Aggie volleyball loss

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Wire briefs: Kings get past depleted T-Wolves

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
With volleyball playoff berth, DHS accomplished its 2014 goal

By Evan Ream | From Page: B6 | Gallery

.

Features

.

Arts

.

Business

 
Don’t pass up the parking gift downtown

By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A13

Doby Fleeman: Give thanks for our innovation culture

By Doby Fleeman | From Page: A20

 
Honey, spreads showcased at open house

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A20

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Sunday, November 23, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B8