California Gov. Jerry Brown has backed away from a controversial plan to shift responsibility for managing certain prisoners and parolees to local governments, reports the Los Angeles Times. Brown scaled back his proposal after law enforcement groups and municipalities loudly condemned his initial plan. Local officials said their jails are already overcrowded, and they had too few parole agents to monitor more ex-convicts. Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley said that the original proposal endangered public safety.
Brown downsized the plan by stripping dozens of crimes from the list of offenses that would cause an inmate to be housed in local jails rather than state lockups. He shrank sharply the number of added cases that local parole agents must manage. The revised plan reduces the number of parolees that Brown initially wanted counties to supervise by 80,000 and the number of offenders they would have to incarcerate by 8,000. Brown has proposed to transfer money and responsibility for nearly $6 billion in state programs to local governments in the coming budget. It is a linchpin of his campaign promise to bring government “closer to the people,” and he hopes to use the changes to persuade the public to support more taxes to balance the budget.