In a hearing of the Senate Budget Committee today, Democrats touted their prison plan to address overcrowding and the federal court’s order to reduce inmate population as stated in Assembly Bill 84. The plan focused on rehabilitation, drug and mental health treatment programs without regard for justice for crime victims and public safety. This prison plan failed to address housing to prevent the early release of nearly 10,000 inmates.
Given his experience at the Board of Prison Terms, State Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) saw flaws in the proposed law and offered the following amendments:
- Anyone who fails community-based prosecution program three times goes to jail.
- Allow three crime victims to sit on the sentencing commission created in AB 84 (one representing Crime Victims United, and 2 additional appointed by Governor). AB 84 currently allows for three inmate advocates but ignored crime victims.
- Keep a record of the number of inmates, parolees and probationers that fail such placements and how frequently.
- And finally, none of the provisions of this Act shall result in the early release of inmates from jail. This amendment parallels a provision Nielsen placed in Marsy’s Law, which voters passed in November 2008.
“Victims and their families must have a voice in the sentencing process. Their perspective is essential in ensuring that justice is served,” Sen. Nielsen said.
Victims were noticeably and callously left out of the Senate Democrats’ prison plan, while it added advocates for inmates.
Without allowing for debate of the merits of each amendment, Democrats defeated all four amendments on party-line votes (11-5).
“To solve our prison, justice and public safety crisis, I reiterate my call for a special session to address inmate housing needs, victims’ rights and rehabilitation programs,” said Sen. Nielsen.