On Monday a panel of federal judges, in a surprising and heartening move, gave the Brown administration still one more month to work on coming up with a solid reform-minded plan to reduce the state’s prison population. The idea is to create a statewide program of reentry and rehabilitation programs that will slowly drop the population permanently by cutting down on return customers. This plan, if Brown & Co can hammer it out, would be in lieu of an extremely costly expansion the state’s prison system, through contracts with private prisons. .
The LA Times’ Paige St. John has more on the story of the Monday extension. Here’s a clip:
A panel of federal judges has given Gov. Jerry Brown an additional 28 days to come up with long-term solutions to the state’s prison crowding problems.
In an order issued Monday, the judges moved the deadline for California to remove about 9,600 inmates from state lockups to Feb. 24, adding almost a month to their last deadline of Jan. 27. It previously was Dec. 31.
They also ordered the state to continue negotiating for solutions with lawyers representing California’s 134,000 prisoners.
Monday was the deadline for a state appeals judge, Peter Siggins, who was assigned to mediate those confidential talks, to report on the two sides’ progress. Based on Siggins’ confidential update and recommendations, the federal panel ordered the negotiations to continue, with another update due Nov. 18, the jurists said in their signed order.
NATION’S POLICE CHIEFS WANT CRIME & JUSTICE COMMISSION
And..while we’re on the subject of the need for a smarter focus on reentry and recidivism, on Saturday in Philadelphia, at the four-day conference for the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Philadelphia’s Chief Charles Ramsay called for a national commission to assess crime and justice in the United States, noting that the last time such a panel existed was in the 1960’s under Lyndon Johnson. Ramsey also noted that most other national law enforcement groups were calling for the commission as well.
The Crime Report…has the story. Here’s a clip:
...The IACP [International Association of Chiefs of Police] supported a proposal by former U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) to create a commission on criminal justice, but it fell three votes short of the number necessary to approve it in the Senate in the last Congress. Currently, U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) has proposed a commission to study the federal criminal justice system. In other remarks Saturday, Ramsey said that sufficient community resources must be assembled to provide services to inmates released in a drive by many advocates on both the left and right to reduce U.S. prison populations, or law enforcement’s “hard efforts to reduce crime may disappear….”
While WLA agrees that the overuse of commissions can be a waste of time, sometimes the right commission at the right time is exactly what is needed.
Webb’s proposal of the creation of a criminal justice commission is just such a case. After nearly 30 years of an unbalanced use of incarceration, there is a real push for intelligent criminal justice reform on the part of those looking most closely at the matter on both the left and the right. Yet, reform is still in its nascent stages. Thus a crime and justice commission could focus that early momentum in ways that could matter.
MORE ON GOVERNOR’S VEXING VETO OF “COMMUNITY SCHOOLS” REFORM BILL
The Center for Public Integrity’s Susan Ferris has been following the problems created by unnecessarily transferring kids to alternative “community schools”—especially when they live far from the schools that all too often keep track of the students poorly, causing them to slip through the educational cracks.
Experts on the topic are very unhappy at Jerry Brown’s veto of a bill that would have reformed the program.
Here are some clips:
California Gov. Jerry Brown has upset school discipline reform advocates by vetoing a bill that would have made it tougher to transfer students to alternative “community” schools. Brown said he was deferring to “the skill and good faith” of local educators.
Reform advocates, including some prominent educators and law-enforcement officials, say such student transfers are sometimes poorly planned, and carried out before a child gets proper counseling or other services at home schools. They also claim too many transfers end up depriving struggling students of an equal education and increase risks they will drop out rather than succeed.
The proposal that Brown vetoed on Oct. 12 was Senate Bill 744 authored by Sen. Ricardo Lara, a Democrat of Bell Gardens. Lara said he’s concerned by estimates that more than one-third of the tens of thousands of students moved into alternative community campuses every year end up dropping out.
The majority of these students are from low income families and are Latino or black. Some are moved into the alternative campuses as punishment for violating school rules. Many others are involuntarily transferred to alternative settings because they’re behind academically or judged to be truant.
Lara’s bill would have stopped involuntary transfers of homeless students to alternative campuses. And it would have required that transferred students’ home districts confirm there is actually space for students at alternative schools and that those campuses can handle the students’ needs. The proposal would have also prohibited community schools from imposing new requirements that block students from returning to their school of origin once original transfer terms are met.
SB 744 would have also required that students involuntarily transferred be reassigned to community schools that are “geographically accessible.”
Earlier this year, the Center for Public Integrity reported on the hidden reality of California students reassigned to county-run community schools so far away — 20 to 40 miles from their homes – that their working parents were unable to transport kids to and from campuses.
Parents told the Center they felt forced to put children on home-study programs that allow county schools to collect five days’ worth of attendance-based funding for students, but leave kids at home most of the week to educate themselves. Other students whose parents are farmworkers never made it to far-off alternative schools, and had to drop out.
One of them, a 14-year-old girl, was readmitted to her regular school this month only after an intervention by local community organizers and publication of the Center’s reports. Erika Brooks of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, a community-organizing group in Kern County, said the cases of two other students languishing out of school are still under review.
There’s lots more so read on here.