Governor Jerry Brown is sponsoring a November ballot initiative that would allow inmates to get out of prison earlier and require judges, not prosecutors, to decide whether to charge juveniles as adults.
The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016initiative would roll back parts of Proposition 21, the ballot measure voters approved in 2000 that gave prosecutors the right to try minors as adults. It also would give inmates with convicts for nonviolent offenses the chance to seek parole after serving time on their primary, most serious offense. This means that inmates whose sentences were lengthened due to secondary offenses or enhancements might not have to serve additional time. “This is pretty dramatic,” said Joan Petersilia, a Stanford law professor who has studied the state prison system for decades. “With enhancements, a base term of 4 years can quickly turn into 20 years. In one swoop (Brown) is eliminating that.”
Brown said that only well-behaved inmates would be considered for early parole. The initiative would let inmates strive for a reduced sentence through a revised credit system for good behavior, education, and rehabilitation.
Brown's support of the measure is the first indication of what he will do with the $24 million in campaign funds he's been sitting on. Brown said that he would not disclose whether he would use his campaign funds because that would be using government time to discuss campaign spending. However, he did say he would do “whatever it takes to get this done.”
Petersilia said that some sort of sentencing reform was anticipated as the state looks for long–term solutions to dealing with prison overcrowding.