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Gov. Jerry Brown’s just-proposed plan to ease overcrowding in California prisons without releasing inmates early has drawn quick opposition from prison reform activists across the state and has spawned an alternative approach from a contingent of moderate and liberal Democrats in the state legislature, creating an unusual rift among senior Democrats in the age-old incarceration-rehabilitation divide.
The Los Angeles jail system holds over 20,000 detainees and is the largest jail on earth, costing nearly $1 billion a year to operate. This is the 21st century, yet the conditions there are similar to slaves packed tightly on a ship during the Middle Passage.