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CALIF GOVERNORS.jpgCalifornia's four living former governors have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to grant Gov. Jerry Brown's request for a stay of a federal court order requiring the state to reduce its prison population by nearly 10,000 inmates.

The Criminal Justice Legal Foundation said today that it had filed a "friend of the court" brief on behalf of Govs. George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson, Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Brown last week asked the Supreme Court to impose a stay on a federal court order requiring the state to reduce its prison population. The three-judge panel that ordered the population reduction said the state had repeatedly failed to act since 2009, when the court first ordered the state to reduce its prison population to 137.5 percent of capacity.

The Brown administration argued the panel failed to consider steps the state has taken since 2009, including improving mental health and medical care for inmates and the diversion, through California's historic prison realignment, of thousands of offenders from prisons to county control.

Yet while the former governors supported Brown in their brief, their argument was sharply critical of realignment. In the first year since it was enacted, the brief said, crime has increased in California's largest cities.

"These preliminary numbers do not, by themselves, prove that prisoner releases pursuant to the order of the three-judge panel are necessarily the cause of the increased victimization," the brief said.

However, the brief said, it is a "very substantial possibility," and it warned reducing the prison population further "will cause even greater increases in victimization."

PHOTO: In this 2004 photo, then-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, center, poses with George Deukmejian, Gray Davis, Jerry Brown, and Pete Wilson, in Los Angeles. Associated Press/ Rene Macura



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