California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders are holding together their plan to close California’s $26.3-billion deficit by delaying until next month a vote on a controversial provision to reduce the amount of time that thousands of inmates spend in prison, the Los Angeles Times reports. The decision followed a blowup in which Assembly Republican leader Sam Blakeslee complained that he had no knowledge of the prison plan and threatened to withdraw his support for the entire budget deal if the proposal to cut the inmate population by 27,000 was included.
The plan, which won endorsement from a police chiefs group, would allow the state to place on home detention prisoners with a year left on their sentences and those who are elderly or infirm, and to change sentencing and parole rules to reward offenders who show evidence of rehabilitation. Blakeslee and some police leaders have labeled the corrections proposal “early release,” a politically volatile term that lawmakers and the Schwarzenegger administration say is a mischaracterization. Democratic legislative leaders agreed to put off dealing with the issue to defuse the dispute.