Republicans to Allow Release of Prison Inmates

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It appears that state Republican leaders are more concerned with appearances than actual policy making when it comes to being tough on crime. The state GOP leadership had threatened to scuttle a budget deal negotiated with Democrats and the governor because of the governor's plan to lower the state's prison population by about 27,000 inmates. Republicans said they would never agree to such a plan. But then they backed off after Democrats and the governor assured them that the plan would be negotiated separately from the budget in August, according to the Chron. The result, however, is that the governor's plan will likely win approval next month because it only needs a simple majority vote of the legislature to pass — while the budget deal requires a two-thirds vote. In other words, it looks as if the Republicans are more concerned about not voting for the prison reform plan than actually stopping it.

Which is totally fine because the governor's plan is a good one. It would save the state about $1.2 billion by converting some non-violent felonies into misdemeanors and allowing more low-risk offenders to spend their time outside of prison, wearing ankle monitors. The plan would lower the state's prison population from about 168,000 to 141,000. Now, it appears that the only roadblock to the state budget compromise is if cities and counties successfully sue to stop the state's planned raid on local coffers.

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