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Senate Leader Backs Brown's Plan to Ease Prison Overcrowding

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The leader of the state Senate is backing Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to send thousands of inmates to private prisons rather than free them early to comply with federal court orders to reduce prison crowding. But Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said Wednesday that the state should also spend more money on mental health and substance abuse treatment programs. He says those programs would reduce the prison population in the long run by helping ex-felons stay out of prison. Corrections Secretary Jeffrey Beard told The Associated Press this week that the Democratic governor will ask federal judges to let the state send at least 4,000 inmates to private prisons to help cut 10,000 inmates from the state's major prisons by year's end.

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