Republicans Introduce Bills That Would Counter Prison Realignment

TOPIC ALERT:

On Tuesday, GOP lawmakers proposed several bills that would modify or reverse provisions of the state's prison realignment plan, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports (Siders, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 3/19).

Background

In 2006, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson ruled that federal oversight of the state's prison health care system was needed after determining that an average of one inmate per week died as a result of malpractice or neglect (California Healthline, 3/12).

To help curb prison overcrowding, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) developed a plan to send inmates convicted of lower-level crimes to county jails (California Healthline, 3/19).

In January, Brown's administration filed a request for a federal court to allow the state to regain oversight of the prison system. The request stated that California has reduced its inmate population and improved prison medical and mental health care.

However, a report issued late last month by Special Master Matthew Lopes said Brown's request to end federal oversight of the prison health system was premature (California Healthline, 3/12).

Details of Bills

Provisions in the 13 bills would send some inmates back to state prisons to ease the burden of realignment on county jails (Thompson, AP/U-T San Diego, 3/19).

Several counties are facing lawsuits over inadequate jail conditions, including overcrowding and poor medical and dental health treatment for inmates (California Healthline, 3/19).

In addition, the bills would improve supervision of parolees and increase penalties for sex offenders and individuals who illegally possess or sell firearms.

Comments on the Bills

Assembly member Connie Conway (R-Tulare) said, "Republicans recognize that we must close the worst realignment loopholes" (AP/U-T San Diego, 3/19).

Republicans expect several of the bills to fail in the Democratic-controlled Legislature ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 3/19).

Jeffrey Callison -- a spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation -- said that the bills would increase problems in state prisons during continued federal oversight (AP/U-T San Diego, 3/19).

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