Court: California governor can seek inmate ballot measure | The Merced Sun-Star

Are you ready for more criminals on our streets?


The California Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Gov. Jerry Brown can keep pursuing a plan to reduce the state’s prison inmate population by releasing certain non-violent felons early while the court considers a legal challenge.

The high court’s order means Brown supporters can continue gathering signatures to qualify a measure for the November ballot while the court decides if the governor made improper, late additions to a proposed juvenile justice proposition.

A Sacramento County judge halted the qualifying process last month after the California District Attorneys Association filed a lawsuit challenging the late additions. The judge ruled that Brown’s additions substantially changed the proposed ballot language after it had gone through a public comment period.

However, the Supreme Court first ruled last month that the qualifying process can continue while the lawsuit is being decided. It re-affirmed that position Wednesday while putting the onus on prosecutors to show the governor’s changes were improper instead of having Brown defend the additions.

The high court didn’t rule on the merits of the lawsuit and gave both sides until the end of the month to submit written arguments.

“We believe when this court looks at all the information they will agree with the lower court and rule decidedly in our favor,” district attorneys’ association chief executive Mark Zahner said in a statement.

The original measure called for having judges, not prosecutors, decide whether juveniles should be tried as adults.

After the 30-day public comment period expired, Brown added language that would allow certain non-violent adult felons to earn parole earlier while qualifying others for earlier releases from prison.

“We can keep gathering signatures while the opponents continue to try and deny the people their right to vote on this reform,” Dan Newman, a spokesman for Brown and other initiative backers, said in a statement.

California is under court order to ease overcrowding in its prisons.

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