LA Times, "Californians would rather ease penalties than pay more for prisons"

A Los Angeles Times-USC survey shows 60% of Californians—Republicans and Democrats alike—favor reducing sentences of third-strike offenders convicted of property crimes if it helps relieve prison overcrowding and avoids higher taxes or program cuts. Nearly 70% said they favor early release of low-level, non-violent offenders, and about 80% approve of keeping such criminals in county jails instead of state prisons. - HTN Foundation

By Jack Dolan, Los Angeles Times
July 21, 2011

Reporting from Sacramento

Cash-strapped Californians would rather ease "third-strike" penalties for some criminals and accept felons as neighbors than dig deeper into their pockets to relieve prison overcrowding, a new poll shows.

In the wake of a court order that the state move more than 33,000 inmates out of its packed prisons, an overwhelming number of voters oppose higher taxes — as well as cuts in key state services — to pay for more lockup space.

The survey, by The Times and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, shows a clear shift in attitude by residents forced to confront the cost of tough sentencing laws passed in recent decades.

Overcrowded conditions at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, Calif. (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation / EPA / May 22, 2011