SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – In terms of signing bills this year, California Governor Jerry Brown took a mostly liberal course, signing legislation that expanded the rights of undocumented immigrants, increasing access to abortion and granting overtime pay to domestic workers.

But he took a bit of a different tact regarding crime-related legislation.

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Brown and the state are facing a bit of a tightrope, with California under federal order to reduce overcrowding in prisons. So far, he has resisted a mass early release of inmates; instead, he wants to shift prisoners to leased private prisons.

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He also vetoed a bill by state Senator Mark Leno of San Francisco which would have allowed prosecutors to charge possession of heroine or cocaine as a misdemeanor rather than a felony.

Part of the problem for Brown is that the cost of prisons in California is much higher than in other states, something that no one talks about. So as Democrats are calling for Brown to not send more people to jail and Republicans are asking him to be tougher on crime, he’s in position to do neither, with the current financial situation in the state.

You can hear Phil Matier’s comments Monday through Friday at 7:50am and 5:50pm on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.

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