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February 9, 2009

"Judges indicate they may order prison population reduced by 58,000"

The title of this post is the title of this new piece in the Los Angeles Times.  Here are the details of the prison crowding story coming out of California, which may quickly become the biggest story in prison nation:

A panel of three federal judges, ruling that overcrowding in state prisons has deprived inmates of their right to adequate healthcare, today indicated they would order the state to reduce the population in those lockups by as many as 58,000 people. The judges issued the tentative ruling after a trial in two long-running cases brought by inmates to protest the state of medical and mental healthcare in the prisons.

Although the order is not final, U.S. District Court Judges Thelton Henderson and Lawrence Karlton and 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt effectively told the state that it had lost the case and would have to make dramatic changes in its prisons unless it could reach a settlement with inmates' lawyers.

If the state is ordered to reduce the population, it would likely be able to do so over several years by limiting new admissions and other measures, so that it would not have to release large numbers of prisoners at once.  State prisons right now operate at about double their designed capacity, and the judges found that with inmates crammed into institutions, they could not receive the care to which they are entitled.

Thanks to How Appealing, everyone can find links to additional press coverage here and can access online at this link today's tentative ruling of a three-judge panel.

February 9, 2009 at 09:33 PM | Permalink


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Like anyone would ever accept the release of 58,000 (nonviolent) criminals "onto the streets" to "hurt our children" - any such order would be ignored, immediately and permanently stayed by a higher court, and ultimately reversed, regardless of the rule of law.

Posted by: BruceM | Feb 9, 2009 10:43:04 PM

"As the Coleman and Plata plaintiffs have been denied their constitutional rights for fourteen and seven years, respectively,...."

California might have to start obeying the law. Imagine that. Is there any better way to encourage respect for the law?

Posted by: George | Feb 9, 2009 11:24:40 PM

But violating the constitutional rights of criminals does not endanger TPC (the precious children). TPC is all that really matters in public discourse, and prison issues is the one area of modern politics where TPC can't be twisted around to support both sides of the issue.

Moreover, the constitution doesn't apply to drugs, so all the prisoners in there for drug crimes don't have constitutional rights to be violated... and that's well over 58,000 prisoners just in California.

Posted by: BruceM | Feb 9, 2009 11:34:18 PM

Guys, try to contain your excitement. People will be raped, killed and victimized as a result of this order.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 10, 2009 11:27:00 AM

no they won't.

Posted by: BruceM | Feb 10, 2009 12:17:21 PM

Why, Bruce, because some liberal judges said so?

Posted by: federalist | Feb 10, 2009 12:28:48 PM

because the vast, vast majority of the hundreds of thousands of people california has in its prisons and jails are nonviolent offenders. People who were caught possessing the wrong plant leaves, powders, or pills without the necessary permission slips. People who wrote bad checks. Stuff like that. Only about 5% of those people are rapists and killers.

Additionally, at least 20% of the people in prison are innocent of the crime for which they were convicted. They were coerced to plead out, as the systme often makes that the only practical, logical, rational thing to do. Spend 5 years or risk 50 years. Duh... take the 5... out in 2-3 with good behavior.

Posted by: BruceM | Feb 10, 2009 1:36:51 PM

"non-violent" offenders--strange, I've heard Kathy Boudin called that.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 10, 2009 2:48:45 PM

In fact, a majority of California prisoners are in for crimes of violence.


Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Feb 10, 2009 3:09:56 PM

Kent: I thought the the order included jails as well as the prisons. A larger percentage of people are in county jails for drug crimes than in prisons.

Regardless, the bottom line is that some things are more important than protecting TPC from crime. I realize the majority of people cannot separate their vaginal maternal instinct from their ability to reason, and thus they place protecting TPC above all else, as both a means and an end, regardless of the costs. Most people just cannot except that dead children (even cute blond hair, blue-eyed white ones) are one of the costs of living in a free, (small-L) liberal society. Deep down inside, most people agree with me, they just don't feel as though they're able to vocalize that agreement. Think how many children's lives we could save if we allowed the police to search whatever, wherever they want, without the need for any cause at all... no need for warrants, they can just come in and search. They're sure to find kidnapped children locked in sex-dungeons of crazed pedophile rapist-kidnappers that would, otherwise, never be found. Shall we abolish the 4th Amendment to save TPC?

We could also save the lives of many children if we lowered all speed limits to 10mph. Thousands of children would be saved each year from horrible traffic accidents. Yes it would take you 3-4 hours to get to work every day, and another 3-4 hours to get back home, but surely your inconvenience is a small price to pay to save the lives of some children, right? I am willing to say I'd rather have children die than have to drive 10mph everywhere. I'm also willing to say it's worth the torture, rape, and murder of hundreds of children each year to have the 4th Amendment in place, even though I have "nothing to hide" (as anti-privacy people love to point out that "if you're not doing anything wrong then you have nothing to hide from the government"). Are you willing to be as blunt? Most people are not, in my experience... in their minds nothing is worth a dead child. Especially a cute one.

Posted by: BruceM | Feb 10, 2009 4:41:20 PM

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