The California senate has narrowly approved a prison bill brokered by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic lawmakers that would save the state $525 million this year by reducing the prison population by 27,000 inmates, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The legislation includes allowing nonviolent elderly and sick inmates to finish their sentences outside prison walls in homes or community hospitals, where they would be monitored with GPS devices. It would create a sentencing commission that would revamp the state’s punishment and parole rules.
Republicans argued strongly against the bill. “”If this becomes law, the people of California will become less safe, pure and simple,” said Sen. Tony Strickland. GOP lawmakers warned that the sentencing commission, which would include a nonvoting former inmate, would weaken the state’s tough-on-crime laws. After more than four hours, the Senate voted 21-19 to approve the bill, The Assembly adjourned without debating the bill and will return Monday.