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July 25, 2007

The latest chapter in the California prison overcrowding saga

This AP story provides the basic details on the latest development in the on-going saga over California's prison overcrowding problems:

California's $7.8 billion prison reform plan will only make conditions worse behind bars, two federal judges said in ordering the creation of a judicial panel to recommend better ways to ease prison crowding.  The move, which could lead to the capping of the inmate population or the early release of some prisoners, drew criticism from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who said he would appeal.

U.S. District Court Judges Lawrence Karlton of Sacramento and Thelton Henderson of San Francisco held a joint hearing on the matter in June and issued the simultaneous opinions Monday.  They said the state's prison system has grown so large that conditions make it impossible to provide acceptable medical and mental health care to inmates.

Last spring, lawmakers agreed to build 53,000 new prison and jail cells as part of an ambitious $7.8 billion program to address a crisis that has been building for decades, but the judges rejected the plan. Karlton and Henderson said the state can't hire enough guards and medical professionals to provide proper care and oversight for the inmates it has now, let alone the thousands more who might be added through the building program.  "From all that presently appears, new beds will not alleviate this problem but will aggravate it," Karlton wrote.

Thanks to the New York Times, the order from Judge Henderson can be accessed at this link.  Also, the California Progress Report provides this extended analysis of the district judges' orders.  And, the Sacramento Bee has this thoughtful editorial responding to the federal judges' new order.  Here is how it ends:

None of these [California political] leaders seem to get it.  The courts are concluding that they are the lawbreakers because of their refusals to confront the overcrowding crisis. This does not necessarily mean that the three-judge panel will order early release of inmates.  In his decision, Henderson made clear he "would like nothing more" than to avoid such an order.

If state leaders would make some meaningful moves toward sentencing reform, parole, drug treatment programs, real rehabilitation and better medical care, it's still possible they could retain some control over the outcome of this legal showdown.

July 25, 2007 at 07:57 AM | Permalink


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Here is a link to Judge Karlton's order

Posted by: | Jul 25, 2007 1:26:51 PM

Manufacture evidence deceive the jury; manufacture more prisons deceive the public. As long as california public officials allow serious major fraudulent/false evidence to be presented/instructed to jury to convict then you will continue to have the scales of justice rigged for anyone to fail and be convicted and thus "over-crowding". What is needed is case review. I could help in this job of case review. Thank you. MOLINA 927 south Bruce-# 5 Anaheim, Ca. 92804

Posted by: MOLINA | Aug 21, 2007 4:58:29 AM

My husband and brother-in-law were convicted in 1979 and sentenced 15 to life for a crime they did not actively participate in but just happened to be at the wrong place and time. My husband has remained disciplinary free for the the past 21+ years. He and my brother-in-law are beyond their Matrix they should have come home a long time ago. I understand that the law says that you should pay the price for your crime, but not your whole life. I feel alot of people are not aware that the release of the prisoners should start with the "Lifers" and work their way out. What do you think?

Posted by: Marichia Castillo - Wife | Sep 19, 2007 10:42:49 PM

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