Time's Up For Schwarzenegger On Prison Plan
Professor Joan Petersilia, an expert in parole reform, comments on the effects of reducing parole supervision to ease overcrowded prisons in California:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger fought against having to give federal judges a plan to reduce state prison overcrowding, but he lost. The proposal his administration must present by today's court-ordered deadline is likely to reflect a reluctance to take direction from the court.
In recent weeks the governor advocated in vain for lawmakers to ratify a plan that would have helped reduce the state budget and cut the prison population by nearly 40,000 within two years, as a panel of three federal judges has demanded. The judges have acknowledged that the plan would have come close to meeting their requirements.
Reducing parole supervision on less serious offenders could cut the number who return to prison on parole violations. But the prison population could actually increase under the measure if local prosecutors decide to bring new criminal cases against some of those parolees instead, said Joan Petersilia, a Stanford University professor who has studied the state correctional system.