Margaret Dooley-Sammuli at 213-291-4190 or Tommy McDonald at
SACRAMENTO — Yesterday Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced he would appeal a federal three-judge panel ruling requiring the state to come up with a plan, by September 18, to reduce the number of people in California prisons by over 40,000 in two years.
“California needs solutions, not more delays,” said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, deputy state director for the Drug Policy Alliance in Southern California. “The governor has promised to cut prison spending. Now’s the time to deliver on those promises.”
In response to the governor’s announcement, a coalition of groups is conducting a “twitter-tack” campaign to blast the governor’s www.myidea4ca.com website with a “drop the appeal” message. The coalition is urging calls to the Governor and Attorney General’s offices with the same message.
It was with Gov. Schwarzenegger’s support that the Legislature agreed in July to cut prison spending by $1.2 billion — but not on how to make those cuts. On Monday, the Assembly finally approved a plan that falls far short of the target. The Senate is not expected to approve that version of bill anytime soon.
The federal three-judge panel found conditions in California’s prisons to be so unhealthy that prisoners’ constitutional rights are being violated, amounting to cruel and unusual punishment. The judges also assert that reducing the prison population by 44,000 will not threaten public safety.
The coalition consists of the ACLU California Affiliates, Drug Policy Alliance, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and Families to Amend California Three Strikes and the CURB (Californians United for a Responsible Budget) coalition.