Jerry Brown on Crime
Instead of new laws, consider the overall system
My plea is relatively straightforward: Take time to understand how our system of crime and punishment has evolved, how other states and countries have devised their prison systems and what changes might we now make.
I urge that instead of enacting new laws because of horrible crimes and lurid headlines, you consider the overall system and what it might need and what truly protects public safety.
Source: 2018 California State of the State address
, Jan 25, 2018
Major reductions in our prison population
In the field of public safety, we have changed historic practices in our prison system and transferred significant responsibilities to local authorities. The Federal courts, backed up by the United States Supreme Court, have ordered major reductions in
our prison population and dramatic improvements in the medical and mental health programs that the state makes available. In response, we have transferred the supervision of tens of thousands of lower level offenders from the state to our 58 counties.
This realignment is bold and far reaching, but necessary under the circumstances. And local law enforcement has risen to the occasion.
Our prisons are pioneering new programs and treatments--and so are the counties.
Last week, I visited the Lerdo Jail just north of Bakersfield and sat in on some classes. It was moving to hear the men's stories and the struggles they encounter.
Source: 2014 State of the State Address to California legislature
, Jan 22, 2014
Curb prison spending through an historic realignment
You, the California legislature, did it. You cast difficult votes to cut billions from the state budget. You curbed prison spending through an historic realignment and you reformed and reduced the state's long term pension liabilities.
Then, the citizens of California, using their inherent political power under the Constitution, finished the task. They embraced the new taxes of Proposition 30 by a healthy margin of 55% to 44%.
Source: 2013 State of the State address to California Legislature
, Jan 24, 2013
Cracked down on violent gangs
As Attorney General, Brown has cracked down on violent gangs, and worked closely with local police and sheriffs to apprehend dangerous criminals, con artists and major perpetrators of fraud and financial crimes.
As California's Chief Law Enforcement
Officer, Brown leads a team of special agents and dedicated staff who conduct criminal investigations, enforce firearms laws and regulations, and manage the state's crime labs, including the third largest DNA database in the world.
Source: 2010 Gubernatorial campaign website, jerrybrown.org
, Nov 2, 2010
CA fired 8,000 college teachers & hired 25,000 prison guards
In California, between 1980 and 1995, one new state college has been built while 8,000 teachers in higher education have lost their jobs. At the same time, 15 new prisons have been constructed and 25,000 new guards have been hired.
We are witnessing an incredible reallocation of commitments in California--and it's mirrored in most of the other states--toward greater coercive control as opposed to education and enlightenment.
Source: Dialogues, by Gov. Jerry Brown, p. 74
, Dec 9, 1996
War on crime is fabricated to frighten people
CHOMSKY: The US is way ahead of the rest of the industrial world, maybe all the world, in imprisoning its own population. That's for population control. None of that has anything to do with crime.
BROWN: Some prisons are now run by companies that
are listed on the stock exchanges. And you've got states like Texas building surplus capacity and then using brokers to bring in prisoners from other states, using their lower salary base to house prisoners for $40 a day rather than $80 a day.
This system is working so well. Some people might say that this increase in prison population is a conspiracy, because it seems to be working almost perfectly for those with extra capacity for sale.
Everything you said is correct, but I still think that major goal of this fabricated war on crime--which is not affecting crime, incidentally--the major goal is to frighten people, and to make them hate and fear each other.
Source: Dialogues, by Gov. Jerry Brown, p.225
, Feb 12, 1996
Death penalty is a test of our humanity
Over the centuries, there has persisted the sense of an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, a belief in righteous vengeance, a primordial feeling that the killing of criminals will balance the scales of Justice. Christian denominations have accepted
capital punishment, and legislation expanding the death penalty to 50 additional criminal offenses has been enacted here in the US. At the same time, Christian doctrine calls upon believers to forgive, to turn the other cheek, and in most
European nations, the death penalty has been abolished.
We are faced with the question of the death penalty nearly every time we vote, either in specific crime-related measures, or by candidates promoting their stand for or against capital punishment.
This question is nothing less than a test of our humanity, of how we see ourselves and others and how we define the role of the state.
Source: Dialogues, by Gov. Jerry Brown, p. 79-80
, Feb 6, 1996
1/3 of young black men in jail means absolute oppression
BROWN: Let's take a look at incarceration. It wasn't long ago, maybe 20 years, that there were a million fewer people behind bars in the US than there are today. With the increase in prison capacity that our leaders boast of, this country is embarking
upon an experiment in incarceration that has never been tried outside a totalitarian regime. What are your thoughts on this?
GUEST: One in every 3 African-American young men is part of our criminal justice system, either in jail, on parole, or on
more are put in jail than go to college.
BROWN: To have a percentage of a population reaching that level is staggering in its message of absolute oppression, disconnection. There's something so wrong and yet the response as far as
I can tell, is to do more of the same in some vain hope it's going to turn things around.
GUEST: Just listen to the racism that permeates the political rhetoric.
Source: Dialogues, by Gov. Jerry Brown, p. 90-1
, Feb 6, 1996
Page last updated: Mar 10, 2019