AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’Schwarzenegger has endorsed the sentencing commission as he prepares to ask lawmakers next month to approve a building plan that will provide more than 35,000 additional prison beds, Tilton said. Since 1977, California has used what is called a determinate sentencing system in which terms for incarceration are relatively fixed. Judges have some leeway based on the nature of the crime and the criminal’s history. Lawmakers and voters have added longer sentences since then through measures such as the “three strikes, you’re out” law for repeat offenders. In November, California voters approved tougher penalties for sex offenders. “We’ve been adding to it piecemeal…,” Tilton said. “Maybe it’s time to back up and take a look at it.” He said the composition of the commission and the authority it would have to change state law have yet to be determined. It should include experts from academia and law enforcement who would consider sentences, parole terms and basing a period of incarceration on each criminal’s risk to society, Tilton said. SACRAMENTO – California’s corrections secretary said Friday that the state will create a commission to review sentencing guidelines for felons, a potential key step in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s efforts to relieve prison crowding. Reform could give judges and parole officers greater discretion and lead to some offenders being released sooner than under current law, Secretary James Tilton told The Associated Press. The proposal comes five days after a federal judge gave Schwarzenegger a June deadline to ease crowding in the nation’s largest state prison system, where more than 173,000 inmates live in space designed for fewer than 100,000. Failure to do so could lead the federal courts to order remedies that include early release of inmates. The administration has not decided whether Schwarzenegger will create the commission himself or seek the Legislature’s approval, he said. During his re-election campaign this year, Schwarzenegger opposed changes to the “three strikes” law and supported Proposition 83, the so-called Jessica’s Law. The voter-approved initiative increases sentences and parole terms for violent and habitual sex offenders. The governor now hopes to convince Democrats who control the state Legislature to support a massive building program. Tilton said it would include adding 16,000 beds at existing prisons and satisfying federal courts by building about a half dozen units to house 10,000 sick and mentally ill inmates. In addition, about 4,500 female and 5,000 male inmates would be transferred to smaller community-based prisons. Lawmakers adjourned last summer without acting on an earlier version of Schwarzenegger’s building plan, which he introduced as part of a special legislative session. Key Democrats said the state should focus on parole and sentencing reform instead of building more cells. To begin easing crowding immediately, the administration has signed contracts to move 2,260 inmates to private prisons in Arizona, Indiana, Oklahoma and Tennessee. The union representing prison guards is challenging the transfers in court, and Tilton said he is having trouble finding inmates who will volunteer to be shipped out of state. About 600 are ready to be transferred, after 80 were sent to Tennessee.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
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