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Facing a three-month deadline to reduce California's prison population, Gov. Jerry Brown said he plans to meet today with 34 wardens and a dozen top administrators of the prison system.

At the meetings, tentatively scheduled for 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. today, the governor said he planned to ask the wardens about overcrowding, healthcare, drug treatment, mental health and vocational learning.

Brown said the appointments demonstrate his engagement in the process and commitment to the issue as the state continues negotiations with its court-appointed mediator. He described the meetings with the mediator as "collaborative and informative" and said talks with plaintiff's lawyers have made him optimistic about reaching a resolution.

"This is a matter that I am very interested in, very committed to getting it right," Brown told reporters Tuesday at a school event in Sacramento. "So that's why we are going very carefully."

The Brown administration has significantly reduced the number of inmates in part by shifting responsibility for certain low-level offenders from the state prison system to counties. The administration now wants more time to allow various rehabilitation programs to take hold as a way to avoid shuttling thousands more inmates to private prisons outside of California.

"We have to understand that when government embarks on major programs, it should do so with humility, and caution and a lot of planning," he said.

"So whenever people say, 'Hey, we need 10,000 fewer people in prison - do something,' I want to do that something very careful, particularly when it comes on top of 25,000 fewer, and on top of 15,000 fewer a few years before."

Editor's note: This post was updated at 2 p.m. to reflect the number of wardens.

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at the California Chamber of Commerce's annual host breakfast in Sacramento on May 22, 2013. The Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli



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