Politics & Government

California Assembly fails to agree on how to cut prison costs

SACRAMENTO — California's state Assembly adjourned at midnight Thursday without approving a Senate-passed plan to reduce the prison population by 27,300 inmates this year and to create a commission to overhaul California's sentencing laws.

No vote was taken, but Assembly Speaker Karen Bass said several reasons caused her caucus to object to the plan that was supported by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and by the Senate, 21-19, in a vote taken earlier Thursday.

"Some of my members thought it should have gone further and others thought it went too far," Bass said.

Bass spent much of Thursday afternoon and evening crafting amendments to the prison package and trying to build support for them, ultimately postponing the effort as midnight neared.

Bass said it would have been another two hours before the amendments were available in print, and that some of her Democratic members were uncomfortable voting until constituents are given time for review.

"I just wasn't going to torture people," Bass said of postponing action until Monday. "It just wasn't necessary."

A budget-balancing plan signed by Schwarzenegger last month called for reducing prison spending by $1.2 billion during the current fiscal year, so lawmakers now are wrestling with how to accomplish that.

The governor's plan, approved by the Senate, would cut the state's prison population of 167,700 inmates by roughly 27,300 over the next year, and by more than 37,000 over two years.

Republicans criticize the prisoner-reduction plan as an "early release" that would endanger communities.

Read the full story at sacbee.com