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SteinbergLeg.JPGThe plan for reducing California prison population that Gov. Jerry Brown's administration proposed in response to a court order doesn't have fans in the Legislature so far.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said today that he doesn't see the Senate adopting the proposals the governor submitted to a three-judge panel last night.

"I'm sympathetic with the governor here," Steinberg said today. "He put out these untenable choices under protest but I'm not for that."

Steinberg said aspects of the proposal that would allow more inmates to be released, such as expanding good behavior credits for felons, are not "consistent with public safety." Spending to contract with counties or building facilities to increase bed capacity also doesn't make sense, he said.

Steinberg said he'd rather try to increase funding for rehabilitation programs, an option he said could provide more stable, long-term reductions to the inmate population. He said he hopes the courts address that in future decisions.

"The federal courts don't have to consider the very true dilemma that if we spend more money in building more prisons or jail beds, that's less money to invest in mental health, substance abuse, treatment and vocational training for parolees and probationers," he said. "The key is to reduce recidivism, not to keep building more capacity."

The Sacramento Democrat said he agrees with the governor that conditions at the state's prisons have improved enough to pass constitutional muster.

"My belief is that this governor, that he is managing and his administration is managing the prisons very well," Steinberg said. "It is a marked difference between what's going on now, in part because of realignment but also management in contrast with several years ago."

Republicans were also critical of both the ruling by a three-judge panel that the state must further reduce its prison population and parts of the plan submitted by Brown's administration last night.

GOP Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, who serves as vice chair of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, said proposals that would lead to more inmates being released will result in "huge public outcry because crime is going to increase and communities are not going to want to hear excuses."

"I think we've done everything we possibly can to comply with the law and to make sure the accommodations if you will are adequate and lawful, but it's not a vacation, it's prison," the Lake Elsinore Republican said. "It's not going to be resort-style accommodations. There are certain things we have to comply with under the law. I'm starting to feel now (the court is) pushing it further and further just because they can."


Prisons chief calls court-ordered plan 'unnecessary and unsafe

Brown says more prison releases require Legislature to act

PHOTO CREDIT: Senate President Pro Temp Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento during session in the Senate chambers on Monday, March 11, 2013. Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.


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