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June 18, 2013

"Efforts to Fix a Broken System: Brown v. Plata and the Prison Overcrowding Epidemic"

The title of this post is the title of this Note available via SSRN and authored by Lauren Salins and Shepard Simpson. Here is the abstract:

Excessive incarceration is a national problem.  Across the country, prisons face dangerous levels of overcrowding, which has led to unconstitutional conditions of confinement and the inability of states to effectively rehabilitate their inmates.  Ardent public support of “tough on crime” policies inhibits state legislatures from enacting successful reforms. In turn, states spend large percentages of their budget to sustain failing and ineffective corrections systems.  By some estimates, states could save hundreds of millions of dollars annually if they reduced prison populations through proactive reforms, such as early release programs and diversionary tactics. In light of these factors, a consideration of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Plata to uphold an unprecedented prisoner release order is both timely and necessary as the case approaches its two-year benchmark.

This Note argues that the Court’s holding in Brown did not overstep the judicial boundaries imposed by the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), but rather was a step in the right direction toward acknowledging and remedying constitutional violations occurring in California’s severely overcrowded prison system.  Moreover, the Court’s analysis of PLRA will help courts navigate the statute’s procedural requirements.

While California has made progress toward complying with Brown’s prisoner release order, this seminal case sheds light on the need for proactive reform in prison systems nationwide to prevent unconstitutionally high levels of overcrowding in the first place.  As states are confronted with this new “release or reform” reality, this Note will facilitate the much-needed discussion surrounding long-term solutions to the overcrowding epidemic in U.S. prisons.

UPDATE:  This recent article from the Los Angeles Times, headlined "California's prison crowding is growing, state report says," provides a useful reminder that all discussions of prison overcrowding problems remain very timely.

June 18, 2013 at 10:09 PM | Permalink

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Comments

What this reminds us of is that the govt is a two-faced lieing bitch!

What the court needs to do is take the information on a state prison system showing square footage, layout and such and the laws covering what ammount is to be used for what and set a hard and fast number of inmates to be houses. Then require the state to stay within in absent a showing of major upgrades or improvement. IE once you hit that fucking number the ONLY way you get to send someone to prison is if you shove someone OUT the backdoor as the new one comes in the front!

The little govt fucktards can't say it can't be done. They seem to have no friggin problem doing it daily when setting occupation numbers for restaurants, bars, movies and any number of public spaces!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jun 19, 2013 3:23:39 PM

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