Assm Republicans release ad on Brown's prison shift

October 17, 2011 8:26:39 PM PDT
The governor's prison plan for thousands of inmates to be released early is under fire. Assembly Republicans have created a slick video hitting Gov. Jerry Brown hard on the potential threat to public safety.

The ad said, "It is likely that many state felons will be granted early release."

The ad features scary-looking thugs and ominous music. Assembly Republicans began an online video campaign to get Californians outraged over Brown's prisoner shift program that began less than three weeks ago, letting some low level offenders serve their time at the county jail instead of state prison.

Former Parole Board Chairman, now Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, is answering critics who say he's trying to scare people with an ad that could be used later against Brown and Democrats. He says he's simply trying to educate Californians that since there's no room at many county jails for the new prisoners, some will be let go.

"It's not a tactic. It's the truth. It's bad policy. It's not a scare tactic. It's a statement of fact and people's lives are at risk," said R-Gerber.

Big city mayors, most of them Democrats, even warned the governor the prisoner shift plan, could be dangerous without more funding.

Law enforcement groups point out the U.S. Supreme Court order is driving this change. California must reduce its prison population by 34,000 over two years or the justices could order a wholesale release.

"People need to stay calm and need to reserve judgment. Is it risky to have the Supreme Court empty the equivalent of three prisons into California cities and counties with no money? Very risky," said Nick Warner from the California State Sheriff's Association. "There's a lot of opportunity in this model, but it's too soon to say whether it's going to work or not."

A new study by the Public Policy Institute of California, though, concluded Brown's prisoner shift plan will likely result in low-level offenders spending less time in a cell and less serious crime going up.

"Not the really heinous stuff. But on the other hand, it's not inconceivable that something more unpleasant would happen," said Dean Misczynski from the Public Policy Institute of California.

Assembly Republicans launched a website, California Crime Watch, to keep a tally of the possible increase in criminal activity.

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