The Allegedly Liberal Jerry Brown

When I read this I just thought, “Really, Jerry Brown? Really?” He vetoed a bill that would have given judges more discretion to reduce sentences for low level drug offenders while simultaneously signing a new contract with a private prison company to take over a closed prison to house more inmates.

On Saturday, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) vetoed a bill that would have led to reduced sentences in many cases involving possession of small amounts of illicit drugs and eased the state’s overcrowded prison crisis.

Far from enacting radical reform, the legislation would merely give judges and prosecutors more flexibility to treat simple possession of cocaine or heroine as a misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in prison rather than the current three years for a felony…

Meanwhile, Brown signed a second private prison contract to take on a portion of California’s massive prison population, as Corrections Corporation of America announced Tuesday. A federal court recently ruled that California cannot solve its overcrowded prison problem by trucking inmates off to private prisons in other states, putting a damper on Brown’s costly plan to use private prisons rather than release low-level offenders as ordered by the court. Under this new deal, CCA will take over a federal detention facility in California City and turn it into a state prison.

California’s prisons are massively overcrowded, so much so that the state is under a court order to fix it. The solution is not to open more prisons, especially ones run by private companies, it is to stop locking up so many people on minor drug offenses.


  1. John Pieret says

    I lived in for a while in California during his original stint as governor. While it was a long tiime ago, my recollection was that he was always a bit of a maverick, like John McCain (only in the other direction) … he’d be liberal most of the time but would take very conservative positions every now and then.

  2. Ichthyic says

    …and allowed community colleges to arbitrarily hike fees for classes simply because of their popularity.

    sadly, the shine has worn off old governor Moonbeam.

    He appears to have become little more than a rubber stamp, poor guy.

  3. Ichthyic says

    The solution is not to open more prisons, especially ones run by private companies, it is to stop locking up so many people on minor drug offenses.

    In a meagre defense of poor Jerry, I would say that this isn’t his fault, nor can he fix it himself.

    the three strikes laws had nothing to do with him, and have to be changed via constitutional amendment at this point.

    FWIW, Californians DID make an attempt to curb the effects of the law in 2012:

    Proposition 36 (2012)

    Proposition 36, a Change in the “Three Strikes Law” Initiative, was on the November 6, 2012 ballot as an initiated state statute, where it was approved.[29]

    Proposition 36:

    Revises the three strikes law to impose life sentence only when the new felony conviction is “serious or violent”.
    Authorizes re-sentencing for offenders currently serving life sentences if their third strike conviction was not serious or violent and if the judge determines that the re-sentence does not pose unreasonable risk to public safety.
    Continues to impose a life sentence penalty if the third strike conviction was for “certain non-serious, non-violent sex or drug offenses or involved firearm possession”.
    Maintains the life sentence penalty for felons with “non-serious, non-violent third strike if prior convictions were for rape, murder, or child molestation.”

    One impact of the approval of Proposition 36 was that the approximately 3,000 convicted felons who were as of November 2012 serving life terms under the Three Strikes law, whose third strike conviction was for a nonviolent crime, became eligible to petition the court for a new, reduced, sentence.[30] Taxpayers could save over $100 million per year by reducing the sentences of these current prisoners and use the money to fund schools, fight crime and reduce the state’s deficit.[31]

  4. Ichthyic says

    …yeah, I think Jerry’s battle to help rid the state of prop 8 pretty much took the last of the fight out of him.

  5. paulg says

    I’m a Californian, and this really disappointed me. Our state government is heavily Democrat controlled, so to have a Democrat veto a bill like that is as bad as having the Republican Terminator veto marriage equality. We won’t always have Democratic governors, in spite of how liberal we are. Need to get these progressive bills passed while we can.

  6. David C Brayton says

    The third rail of California politics is the prison guard unions–you simply don’t mess with ’em. I’ve never understood why they are so powerful but they can manipulate politicians like Charles Manson and David Koresh screwed with their followers.

  7. says

    This rankles me no end. When Brown was on the radio (KPFA, Berkeley) he made such extremist ‘progressive’ statements that I and many others had thought that he’d sunk his future in politics. I voted for him when he ran for governor. His extremism would not come to fruition but it would, hopefully, ameliorate what the preceding governors (Republicans) had done. Imagine, no death penalty! A fair shake for farm-workers and small business, blah blah blah.

    So, for him to veto this bill, which would have reduced prison populations, was shocking. That he contracted with CCA for MORE prisons, privatized gulags that enslave inmates under appalling conditions, proves that he is a total hypocrite.

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