Prison guards challenge Schwarzenegger in new TV ad

Election Day is over, but the political ads keep on coming. The California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA), a long-time critic of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, began running a television ad on Wednesday–only a day after the election–criticizing the state of California’s prisons under Schwarzenegger.

With grainy images of violent prison rioting mixed with statistics of assaults on prison guards, the ad states, “You’ve won another term, governor. Now it’s time to fix the prisons.”

Lance Corcoran, a spokesman for the CCPOA, said the ad, which is airing until the end of the week in limited buys across the state, including Los Angeles, is meant to send a message to Schwarzenegger.

“”The governor’s first three years [of prison reform] can be summed up in two words: complete failure,” said Corcoran. “The ads are a call to the governor to say, ‘The first three years are behind you. What are you going to do from here?'”

Schwarzenegger has said prison reform will be a critical piece of his 2007 agenda, calling it the “number two problem” after healthcare as recently as last week.

“We have 65 percent of inmates that are being released come back in again, so it’s this revolving door, and it is because we have a lack of rehabilitation,” Schwarzenegger said last week in Monterey. “We must build more prison space, because we have 172,000 inmates, and we have facilities that were built for 100,000 inmates. So we are way overcrowded.”

Last year, Democrats in the Legislature balked at two Schwarzenegger-backed efforts to borrow money to fund new prisons. The governor also called a special session for prisons that was largely unproductive.

The governor’s office has not revealed the shape of Schwarzenegger’s prison-reform package, though it is widely expected to be unveiled in January’s State of the State Address.

The CCPOA had originally booked $5 million in television time in the final weeks of the governor’s race, but the union cancelled those spots, preferring not to embark on a “multi-million dollar suicide mission” opposing Schwarzenegger, who was resoundingly reelected on Tuesday.

The new ad, which features much of the same imagery as a summer spot that said the state’s prisons were in “melt down,” comes while that the prison-guards union is negotiating a contract with the Schwarzenegger administration. The state’s correctional officers have been working without a contract since July 1.

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