Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown at his State of the State address in January. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

John Myers
February 26, 2016

The California Supreme Court on Friday evening allowed Gov. Jerry Brown and his political allies to begin gathering voter signatures for a November ballot measure to revamp prison parole policy, a temporary victory until the justices determine whether state officials properly followed election laws.

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye issed a temporary stay of a judge’s ruling that had stopped Brown’s ballot measure dead in its tracks.

Minutes later, Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris issued a formal title and summary for the proposal, thus clearing the way for signature gathering to begin this weekend.

Brown unveiled his plan in late January, one highlighted by an overhaul of the rules regarding parole eligibility for inmates serving time for nonviolent crimes. Prisoners who earn enough good behavior credits or participate in education programs would be eligible for early release.

The governor added his plan to a proposed ballot initiative that was already being vetted — one that originally dealt only with juvenile justice.

Sacramento Judge Shellyane Chang ruled on Wednesday, in a case brought by the California District Attorneys Assn., that Harris should not have allowed Brown to submit his substantial revisions to an existing initiative without additional review.

Brown formally filed his appeal of that ruling to the state Supreme Court on Thursday, warning the justices that California’s long-term ability to comply with a federal court order to reduce its prison population hinged on voters being given a chance to approve his plan.

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