Brown making last-ditch plea on prison overcrowding; No discipline in jail scandal; Garcetti muzzles ‘taxi czar’

todaysnewsbanner2Prisons pitch. Gov. Jerry Brown is making his case once again about why California should get a three-year extension on a court order to reduce its prison population. His administration told a panel of federal judges that the state is prepared to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to move prisoners, but would rather use the money on rehabilitation.

Brown’s latest plea to the federal court is the result of a deal struck between the governor and legislative leaders that’s designed to ease California’s overcrowding crisis without a mass release of prisoners. California has been ordered to cut its prison population to 137 percent of capacity by the end of the year – a reduction of about 8,500 inmates from current levels.

Under the bill passed last week by the Legislature and signed by Brown, 2,500 prisoners would still be sent out of state and to other lockups in California. The state would also set aside $150 million for mental health and rehabilitation services next year. Brown has asked the court to rule on its filing by September 27th.

Meanwhile, the governor signed a bill last night that gives new hope of getting out of prison to people who committed serious crimes as minors but were prosecuted as adults. The new law makes those inmates eligible to have their cases reviewed for possible release as early as 15 years into their sentences. More than 6,500 inmates could have their cases reexamined under the new law. Sacramento Bee, L.A. Times

Oversight and accountability. A new report finds none of the Sheriff Department’s top managers will be fired or demoted for instigating what a Blue Ribbon panel called “a culture of violence” inside L.A. County jails. The report comes from an independent monitor tracking reforms at the Sheriff’s Department. It says four unnamed senior managers were able to avoid disciplinary action by retiring between March of 2012 and August of this year. The report is expected to be presented to the Board of Supervisors today, the same day the Supes are due to consider a proposal to create a permanent oversight commission for the jail system. Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Gloria Molina say a new federal civil rights investigation focusing on mental health care demonstrates the need for a permanent oversight panel. L.A. Daily News, L. A. Times

rearenderCrash scams. $143 million dollars. That’s how much auto-insurance fraud rings tried to swindle from California companies last year, according to state officials. About 40 percent of all the claims investigated come from L.A. County. State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones says one of the most common fraud schemes is called the “swoop-and-squat.” It involves two drivers. The first quickly pulls in front of his or her partner, giving them an excuse to stop abruptly. An unwitting driver then plows into the back of the trailing car and a claim is made against their insurance. Jones said drivers in L.A. pay between $200 and $300 more in premiums each year because of fraud. The Department of Insurance has given L.A. County about $7 million this year to crack down on auto insurance fraud. KNBC

Taxi tiff. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office has reportedly barred the city’s taxi administrator from talking to the media. The L.A. Weekly says Garcetti and Tom Drischler are sparring over ride sharing apps for smart phones. Garcetti has said he wants to be the city’s first high-tech mayor. He’s a fan of these apps. But Drischler, the city’s taxi czar, believes the ride sharing companies are violating the city’s current rules. In emails to colleagues, he referred to them as “rogue apps” and “scam artists.” The new apps have raised questions about what constitutes a “taxi” and whether the ride-sharing services should be regulated like traditional cabs. L.A. Weekly

blakehousePresidential perks. The University of California has announced that it’s leasing an Oakland home for new President Janet Napolitano at a cost of $9,950 dollars a month. The rent for the residence is $2,500 dollars less than what U.C. has been paying for a home leased for departing President Mark Yudof. Napolitano’s new digs, though, might be temporary. U.C. regents today will consider a proposal today to start renovating another Bay Area property that could become the permanent residence of university presidents. Known as Blake House, the Kensington property needs up to $6 million in renovations. Napolitano will earn a $570,000 annual salary. She starts her new position on September 30th. AP