The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision ordering California to reduce its prison population by 30,000 over the next two years has sent shockwaves through the Capitol as legislators and the Brown Administration struggle with how the state will comply.
Some are hoping that the ruling, and the attention it is getting, will give new momentum to Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to extend about $11 billion in temporary tax increases that are expiring this year. Brown wants to use some of that money to reimburse counties for taking control of inmates who have short sentences or have been returned to prison for violating the conditions of their parole.
Voters, the thinking goes, will be more likely to approve the tax hikes if they think one of the consequences of not doing so will be the release of dangerous felons to the streets.
Setting aside the question of whether such releases really need to happen, is this really an issue that can drive voter sentiment?
Maybe. But it depends on how it is framed.