As a recent Sacramento Bee editorial put forth, if you’re looking for a statewide candidate who embraces full-on prison reform in this election, you’re going to be disappointed. The candidates have mostly steered clear of making any promises or plans for changing the state’s overcrowded and heavily scrutinized prison system, or taking on the state’s high recidivism rate. Yet the candidates do display subtle differences.
Is heavily supported by the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, which has produced a number of commercials for the candidate. He says the state needs sentencing reforms that revise some of the mandatory minimums that are currently in place. As Attorney General, he’s fought the federal court-ordered reforms to the prison system and has not been interested in negotiating with the federal receiver to reduce the prison population.
Has said that the state should look into options like private prisons and sending inmates to other states to reduce prison overcrowding. She also supports building new prisons. Whitman does not support creating a sentencing commission to look into mandatory minimum sentences. She’s indicated that pensions for correctional officers might be reduced under a Whitman administration.
Has put forth the most progressive (or radical, depending on how you look at it) stance on prison reform. Namely, in the attorney general candidates debate, she said that California must comply with a ruling by a panel of federal judges that said the state needs to reduce its prison population. (The case goes before the US Supreme Court later this month.) She’s also put forth plans to
In the past, Cooley has been outspoken on issues like California’s Three-Strikes sentencing law, saying that it’s too often used to put non-serious offenders in prison for life. In recent times, he’s backed off a bit, saying that prosecutors have come around and are mostly sticking to the law’s intent. Cooley has also pledged to fight the prison system’s court-ordered reforms as ardently as possible.