Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Governor Schwarzenegger Responds to Court Orders in California Prison Crisis

Governor Schwarzenegger's response to the judicial orders on Monday did invoke the eternal dangerousness of anyone in prison but was generally more measured than has been typical of Governors in recent years.

"California prison overcrowding developed over the past 30 years, leading to the current crisis in our prisons. That is why I issued an Emergency Proclamation to address overcrowding and directed the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to transfer thousands of inmates to out-of-state prisons. And that is why my administration and the Legislature enacted AB 900, major prison reform that will reduce overcrowding and recidivism, and change parole policies, without releasing dangerous criminals into our communities.

"Today, the federal judges encouraged the State of California to continue with our efforts to reduce overcrowding and to implement AB 900. The judges said that if we are successful, further population orders will not be necessary. There is no immediate threat of inmate release, which one federal judge noted would be a "radical step."

"I'm confident that the steps the state has taken and will continue taking to reduce overcrowding will meet the court's concerns. At the same time, we intend to appeal these orders to ensure that dangerous criminals are not released into our communities."

Although the Governor continues to invest in the notion that everyone in prison is dangerous and that the task of the state is to keep them locked up as long as possible, the fact that he did not attack the courts more aggressively is a good sign.

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