SACRAMENTO (KGO) — Thousands of California prison inmates will soon be living closer to home. It’s part of the governor’s plan to reduce costs and increase the effectiveness of the criminal justice system. The plan looks good on paper, but critics believe the reality will be much different.
Under the new law Gov. Jerry Brown just signed, up to 30,000 low-level offenders would be transferred over three years from state prisons to local jails once the state finds money. Brown hopes to save taxpayers billions by lowering the number of inmates who return to prison and keeping them closer to their homes where they can get drug treatment and mental health services.
“The prison system has been a failure,” said Brown. “After I left the governorship, the next several governors went on a prison building boom and they lost sight of management, they lost sight of reducing recidivism and really, public safety itself.”
The governor had hoped to pay for the transfer program with the renewal of expiring taxes, but that is still being negotiated with Republicans, whose party trotted out a Brown caricature, giving him an ‘F’ for his plans.
While groups of law enforcement support Brown’s plan, some are worried. Even after the money is found, no one really knows if locals can handle the extra workload.
“We have real serious concerns about how this is going to play itself out for us at the local levels,” said Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell.