SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers are set to announce Tuesday afternoon new legislation to help California meet a court order to reduce prison crowding.
The plan involves dipping into the state's reserve fund to pay for new places to house inmates, according to sources briefed on the proposal. It will cost about $300 million in the current fiscal year, and more in the following year, they said.
The sources declined to be identified speaking about the proposal before the official announcement.
Brown has previously said it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to avoid releasing any inmates early, and state officials have been hunting for extra room in private and county facilities.
California prisons currently house about 9,600 more inmates than is considered acceptable by a panel of three federal judges, who have deemed state lockups unconstitutionally crowded. The state has until the end of the year to lower the prison population.
Brown has appealed the order to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the state is still preparing to comply.
The governor's office said Brown will be joined at Tuesday's news conference by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) and Republican leaders Sen. Bob Huff of Diamond Bar and Assemblywoman Connie Conway of Tulare).
Conspicuously absent from the announcement is Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), who has not been on board with dipping into the reserve fund to expand prison capacity. He's called for more funding for mental health care, which he says will prevent ex-inmates from returning to prison.
“We need to look at other alternatives and be a little more creative," Steinberg spokesman Rhys Williams said Monday.
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