Transcript: Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner’s Q&A with Attorney Donald Specter on the role of federal courts in California’s prison reform before the Assembly Select Committee on Justice Reinvestment on Oct. 21, 2013

Partial transcript of Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner’s (D-Berkeley) Q&A with Donald Specter, Attorney and Director of the Prison Law Office, on the role of federal courts in California prison reform. The hearing before the Assembly Select Committee on Justice Reinvestment was held on Oct. 21, 2013:

Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley):
…You indicated that Schwarzenegger had done the executive order that the overcrowding is…bad for everything. And yet, while I wasn’t in the legislature in 2006 – didn’t get here until 2008, I saw little to no activity to reduce while he was Governor and even various efforts that the legislature made were thwarted during that. There’s been more, though, clearly not adequate since Governor Brown has been Governor. Could you just talk a little bit about that time period? Because my understanding is that we had a good number of years while we were under the court order where we had very little to no reduction and that we’ve accelerated that reduction though we still haven’t achieved it.

Donald Specter, Attorney and Director of the Prison Law Office:
Right, Governor Schwarzenegger did call, I think, two special sessions in the legislature to try and get the population issues resolved but the legislature didn’t pass any legislation…2007-8.

And then of course Realignment, which was Governor Brown’s initiative passed and that has some substantial effect on the parole population and the prison population. The thought on Realignment from just our perspective is that it was designed not to meet the court order. So that’s why we’re still having these problems.

Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley):
Can you expand a little on that?

Donald Specter, Attorney and Director of the Prison Law Office:
Yes, you know, there’s this what they call the CDCR Blueprint that was put out a year or two ago, and they were trying to get the population down through Realignment to 145%, which is higher than the 137.5% which is required by the court order. And I believe, although I can’t prove it because I’ve never been able to get the discovery I need to do it, but I believe that when Realignment was negotiated, everybody in the room knew that it wouldn’t meet the court order.

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