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Taxpayer Group: Bond-Funded Prison Beds Are Unconstitutional

A taxpayer group is suing to stop the state from building more prison beds to ease overcrowding. It's asking the court to stop the sale of bonds to fund the project. From Sacramento, Jenny O'Mara reports.

The group Taxpayers for Improving Public Safety is filing suit against the governor and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation .

The organization's director, Matt Gray, says the bill approved by the legislature -- AB 900 -- to build more than 50,000 new prison and jail beds violates the constitution.

He says the problem is the use of lease revenue bonds which aren't approved by voters and should have a revenue source.

Gray : Prisons don't make money, they do not generate money. It's not like a toll bridge, if we were building a toll bridge, the tolls would pay off the bonds. AB 900 does not do this.

Governor Schwarzenegger signed the prison legislation last May. It's the administration's response to court challenges on overcrowding.   A spokesman for the state's Department of Finance says lease-revenue bonds have been upheld in the courts as an appropriate way to pay for prison facilities.

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