The two-year delay granted to California Gov. Jerry Brown to reduce the prison population is “a win-win for a lot of people–the unrelenting judges and lawyers, the packed-like-sardines inmates, the taxpaying public and state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg,” saays Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton. Brown won’t be forced to release hordes of convicts, among them some potential Willie Hortons, as he runs for re-election this year.
Te judges, lawyers and inmates will gradually obtain — although not so quickly as they’d liked — more breathing room in the lockups and, consequently, better medical and mental health care. The felons will be provided improved rehab, education, job training and treatment for drug abuse. Some prisoners will be given early release, although Brown certainly won’t be calling it that. The taxpaying public will be saving money in the long run. They’ll be paying for incarcerating fewer prisoners. Those released will be more likely to go straight and not return as expensive wards of the state. At least that’s the theory. And it’s worth trying, given that California’s old stack-’em-like-cordwood mentality resulted in a recidivism rate — repeat lawbreaking — of 70%, twice the national average.