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California GOP Lawmakers Introduce Bills To Counteract Prison Realignment

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San Francisco County Jail. (CBS)

San Francisco County Jail. (CBS)

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SACRAMENTO (KCBS) – California Governor Jerry Brown’s prison realignment plan is facing a new barrage of criticism, as Republican lawmakers have introduced more than a dozen bills to counter it.

The Republican legislators argue that sending inmates convicted of low-level crimes to county jails instead of state prisons threatens public safety.

Assembly Public Safety Committee Vice Chair Melissa Melendez said the proposed bills would improve supervision of parolees, as well as send more convicts back to prison.

“We’re not talking about building 20 more prisons. We’re talking about using the resources we have available to us now in an effective and an efficient manner,” she said.

Bills in the Republican package include imposing prison time instead of jail time for criminals who remove their GPS-linked tracking devices, sending all sex offenders who violate their parole back to prison and to have state parole agents, rather than county probation agencies, supervise all released sex offenders.

San Jose State Political Science Professor Larry Gerston said prison realignment has created challenges for local governments.

“It’s one thing to go ahead and say, we’re going to ask you, the local governments to take over this thing,” Gerston said. “It’s another thing if they’re not funded.”

All told, counties are housing more than 1,100 inmates serving sentences of five years or more in jails designed for stays of a year or less.

A spokesman for the state Corrections and Rehabilitation Department would not comment on the pending legislation. But he said any bills would have to be reconciled with the federal court order that California reduce its state prison population.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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