Gov. Jerry Brown said Thursday that criminal gangs “too often run” California prisons or hold undue influence over them, as he scrambles to qualify a ballot measure to make certain prisoners eligible for early parole.
Brown, addressing an annual gathering of crime victims and their families at the Capitol, said many criminals “develop even worse habits” once they are incarcerated in state prisons.
“So we have to make sure that our prisons can be in a very important way transformative, so that people learn to respect the law and not just respect the gangs, which too often run the place or have undue influence,” Brown said. “I don’t like to say that, but it happens to be true.”
So we have to make sure that our prisons can be in a very important way transformative, so that people learn to respect the law and not just respect the gangs, which too often run the place or have undo influence.
Gov. Jerry Brown
In brief remarks Brown did not mention his initiative, which would let certain felons convicted of nonviolent offenses seek early parole and restructure how the state awards credits for good behavior.
Brown has said the measure will better prepare inmates to re-enter society, while district attorneys and other opponents have said it will result in dangerous criminals gaining release.
Brown is racing to collect signatures to qualify the initiative for the November ballot, even as the California Supreme Court considers its legality. In a court challenge the California District Attorneys Association and Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said the initiative was improperly filed.
Asked after speaking if he was worried about collecting enough signatures in time to make the ballot Brown told reporters he was “working as hard as we can.”
Nina Salarno of the advocacy group Crime Victims United said Thursday that her organization has not taken a position on the initiative but is engaged in a “lot of discussion” with Brown.
Several hundred people, many of them with ties to victims of violent crime, attended the event at the Capitol.
Nicole Clavo, whose son Jaulon “J.J.” Clavo, a Grant Union High School student, was killed in November, addressed the crowd in sunglasses she said she wore to hide tears.
“It’s a pain that none of us can describe,” she said.