As governor, Brown pushed through Assembly Bill 109 to implement his "realignment" plan to move "lower-level offenders" and parole violators from costly state prison to county jurisdiction. Now he has local politicians from Fresno and Los Angeles blaming him for releasing repeat offenders into probation, to the detriment of public safety.
Though Brown won't concede that AB 109 has endangered the public, he does argue that releasing more inmates threatens to do so. To meet the three-judge goal, the state argued in a legal brief, would entail ordering the "early release of inmates serving prison terms for serious and violent felonies." Including murder.
"It's Crime Fighter Jerry. He's going to defend us," mocked Rushford, who argues Brown should have drawn this line earlier, maybe 10,000 inmates ago.
On the left, Rebekah Evenson of the Prison Law Office thinks Brown is recalcitrant. "The governor has tried this in various other approaches to getting rid of judicial oversight over the years and has pretty much failed. What we would say to the governor is, 'If you want to get out of these lawsuits, fix the violations.'"
That attitude drives Brown crazy. On the phone Wednesday, Brown told me he had appointed Lawrence Karlton to the state Superior Court before Karlton joined the infamous three-judge federal panel. Brown hires enlightened thinkers. "We have honest, smart, experienced people responding to the most liberal judges in America for not one year (but) many years," Brown said. "At this point in 2013, the sovereign state of California is capable of operating its own prison system."
States' rights? You bet. Enough already of these remote federal judges and their edicts. You remember the definition of a conservative -- a liberal who's been mugged. In this case, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges are treating the liberal Brown like a conservative, and he's reacting like one.
Root for Brown. If the three judges succeed in releasing 9,000 serious offenders, there will be more victims of serious crimes.