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Judge questions Calif. prison guard pact

July 20, 2004 at 5:55 PM

LOS ANGELES, July 20 (UPI) -- A federal judge has threatened to place California's prison system under court control because of a contract deal between the guards' union and the governor.

District Judge Thelton Henderson said in a letter released Tuesday that the memorandum of understanding struck by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the corrections officers' union gave up too many state controls over the sprawling penal system to insure that court-ordered reforms would be carried out.

Schwarzenegger renegotiated a new contract with the union to save the state some needed money; however Henderson said the agreement effectively surrendered vital management powers to the union. The judge said he was concerned the move would hamper court-ordered reforms to the Department of Corrections.

State Sen. Gloria Romero said Tuesday she would urge the Legislature to reject the memorandum. Romero, the Democratic chairwoman of a select committee on the prison system, said Schwarzenegger's agreement should be voted down by the Legislature.

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