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Jerry Brown Gets It Right

Thursday, January 29, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

With fiscal woes so widespread and the Democrat’s D.C. porkapalooza so enormous, a mere $8 billion may seem like chump change.

But after the markets steady and the one-time spending binge is just a fiscal hangover with a huge interest payment that the Treasury can cover with inflated dollars, the enormous damage being done under the alleged authority of the Prison Litigation Reform Act will go on and on across the country, and the big rollout of the law’s vast reach is underway in California, where a federal judge applying the act has appointed a receiver of the California prisons’ health care system, and where a suit is also moving closer to an order releasing up to 50,000 of the states 170,000 inmates.

This is a huge story, but complicated, so focus just on one aspect of the federal receiver’s grandiose schemes –his grandiose vision of an eight campus new prison hospital system, which will run $8 billion in the construction and who knows how much in its annual operation. California is already paying approximately $12,000-$14,000 per year per prisoner, but the receiver, law professor J. Clark Kelso, has decreed the new prison hospitals will be built and he is demanding the first payment from an insolvent California treasury.

The demands of the unaccountable receiver appointed by the unelected judge to expend non-existant dollars on a five star prison hospital system has brought even the liberal Jerry Brown, California’s Attorney General and perhaps future governor (yes, he’s running again) to the side of fiscal discipline and constitutional order, where he found a great number of solid conservatives already organized to stop the absurd plans. Yesterday Brown asked the court to reign in Kelso, and later in the day he appeared on my show to explain why this craziness must end. The folks in the 49 states other than California should realize that they have a stake in this legal confrontation, as the example of what is happening in the Golden State will be replicated in every other state unless the law is interpreted here to prevent the sort of wild excesses that are presently unfolding.

The transcript of the interview with AG Brown is here, and the audio is here. A follow-up conversation with Dean John Eastman of Chapman University Law School and Dean Erwin Chemerinsky of UCI Law School follows the Brown interview on the podcast, which also includes a brief discussion of the implications of moving the Gitmo terrorists to prisons within the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit, a possibility raised by discussions within the federal government of using Camp Pendelton as the new Gitmo.

I will keep trying to get Professor Kelso to appear on the program, but he’s not much for debating, only decreeing.

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