Politics

Governor Jerry Brown visits Fresno

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Governor Jerry Brown spent a full day in Fresno Wednesday, meeting with city and law enforcement leaders. He started the day at Fresno City Hall, meeting with Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin. Later, he spoke during an afternoon luncheon at the Downtown Club, addressing a number of issues facing the state, including prison realignment.

The governor's plan is to ease prison overcrowding by sentencing some prisoners to county jails rather than state prisons. In addition, local probation departments will now monitor parolees. The governor said the changes are necessary to comply with a court order, but they will also save taxpayer money. "The best way to deal with them is in the community because they're going to come back anyway. The most violence, the sexual predators, no... We're keeping them in prison. But a lesser offender, can they can be handled on the local level," said Brown.

The governor's time in Fresno included a meeting with Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims, and Fresno County Chief of Probation Linda Penner, who spoke to him about implementing the plan in Fresno County. "The governor is very open and we could be frank about the issues we were facing and he was very interested in how it's going to work," said Mims.

The governor said $500 million dollars has been allotted to help local governments deal with the influx of prisoners and parolees. Fresno County is set to receive about $8.8 million from October to June. Most that will go toward opening two floors at the jail. One floor will open at the beginning of October. While the sheriff questioned whether the money is enough, she also stressed her ultimate goal of maintaining public safety. "What this realignment does is give local control over how we handle those who commit crimes. If they need to be locked up, we can. If we need to we can electronically monitor them, or it can be straight probation. We're going to be working together to use this money wisely to keep the citizens of Fresno County safe," said Mims.

The governor also said he is also unsure if the money allotted is enough. He said we'll all know more when the realignment is implemented across the state.

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Tags:
fresno, jerry brown, ashley swearengin, fresno city council, politics, amanda perez
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