Debra J. Saunders

On the short-timers, he is right, but he should have stopped there and not attempted to throw all "low level" felons to the counties as well. When Brown starts talking about incarceration rates in Europe and arguing that "local people" are more "in touch" with offenders, I think of San Francisco -- the city that flew drug offenders to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to help them evade federal immigration authorities in 2008. I think about the 40 crimes -- including felony domestic violence, assaulting a police officer, solicitation for murder and human trafficking -- left out of an earlier version of the bill.

Brown notes that local law enforcement supports the plan. Of course, they do. They're starving for money.

Brown promises that there will be "no realignment unless money follows it." (He doesn't have the money yet because his tax-extension proposal didn't qualify for the June ballot, but he's working on it.)

In the last five years, changes in the parole system have reduced the number of state prison inmates by 11,000 in five years. Criminal Justice Legal Foundation President Michael Rushford sees a link between California's tough sentencing system and its low crime rate. He predicts that the state's next crime report "is going to be a little higher," and next year, "a lot higher."

Maybe Rushford's wrong. Maybe he's right. The question is, to paraphrase not Brown, but Dirty Harry: Do you feel lucky?

Debra J. Saunders

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