Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown: ‘I can clean up’ sentencing problems he created

Jerry Brown: ‘Problems I create, I can clean up’

Voters in November 2016 approved Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal for changing the “determinate” sentencing law, which he signed in his first term in 1976. Saying prisoners have too few incentives to turn their lives around, he proposed to make it eas
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Voters in November 2016 approved Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal for changing the “determinate” sentencing law, which he signed in his first term in 1976. Saying prisoners have too few incentives to turn their lives around, he proposed to make it eas

Gov. Jerry Brown, condemning the tough sentencing law he signed as governor nearly four decades ago, declared Monday “the problems that I create; I can clean up.”

“You create a problem you figure out how to solve it,” Brown told crime survivors at a conference in Sacramento coinciding with National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. “If politicians would do that we’d be in a lot better place.”

Brown is working to qualify for the fall ballot his solution to the outmoded “determinate” sentencing law, which he signed in his first term in 1976. His proposal would make it easier for nonviolent offenders to obtain parole. Many in the diverse audience live in communities marred by crime.

Don’t lose hope. Help is on the way.

Gov. Jerry Brown

The Democratic governor spoke about the cyclical nature of crime, but also about how prison can offer little help for those addicted to drugs, or trying to break free from gang affiliations.

Brown said “fixed sentencing” is laced with complications, beginning with the fact that no matter how long the term is to last, “it’s never enough.” That’s necessitated the Legislature over the years to add more time, Brown said, “year after year, decade after decade, until you get 5,000 laws.”

Secondly, he said, there is no incentive or reward for people in prison to rehabilitate and take back control of their lives.

“You get out at a certain day. Not earlier, not later,” he said of the system.

“But if you can get parole, or you can earn credits ... for going home earlier, then you have a power over your life. You can take charge. And learning how to take control of your life is exactly what we need people to do.”

He briefly sketched out the parameters of his proposed initiative, then implored the gathering not to lose hope.

Promised Brown, “Help is on the way.”

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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