State Democratic Assembly leaders are apparently afraid of being labeled soft on crime if they go along with the governor's prison reform plan, so they're gutted it in an attempt to appease prosecutors and police chiefs. As a result, the Democrats are positioning themselves to the right of a two-term Republican governor. State Assembly Speaker Karen Bass has already eviscerated the governor's proposal, which would save the state about $1.2 billion over two years by cutting California's prison population by about 27,000 inmates.
Bass says there isn't enough votes in the Democratically controlled Assembly to approve Schwarzenegger's proposal, even though the state Senate has already passed it. Bass appears determined to keep more prisoners behind bars also in defiance of a court ruling that ordered the state to lessen the number of inmates by 40,000 in the next two years. The state is expected to appeal that ruling.