By Don Thompson
SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown asked federal judges Thursday to give the state two more years to reduce prison crowding to the level set by the court, and said inmates could be released early if the state fails to meet its goals.
The proposal presented to the special three-member panel calls for the court to appoint a compliance officer to choose which inmates would be freed.
The state faces an uncertain spring deadline to reduce the prison population by more than 5,000 inmates to comply with the court’s population cap.
Brown wants the deadline extended to Feb. 28, 2016. He proposed that the state meet interim population reduction deadlines in June 2014 and February 2015.
Two years is “the minimum length of time needed to allow new reform measures to responsibly draw down the prison population while avoiding the early release of inmates,” the administration said in its seven-page court filing.
The judges had ordered the administration and attorneys representing inmates to propose separate plans by Thursday after they failed to reach agreement on how best to reduce crowding. The inmates’ attorneys had not yet filed their proposal.
The two sides have until next week to comment on each other’s proposals, and the judges said they would issue a final order by mid-February.