On Monday, California officials asked a federal court to drop its order for significant reductions in prison inmate populations, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) administration made the request two hours before a court-ordered deadline for the state to present a plan for reducing inmate populations (Walsh/Stanton, Sacramento Bee, 1/8).
About six years ago, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson appointed federal receiver J. Clark Kelso to oversee the state's prison health care system after determining that an average of one inmate per week died as a result of malpractice or neglect.
In May 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to reduce its inmate population to help improve health care.
In April 2012, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation released a plan for reorganizing the state's prisons and ending federal oversight.
In October 2012, federal officials agreed to begin transferring select administrative functions of California's prison health care system to state officials (California Healthline, 12/13/12).
Details of State's Request
According to court documents filed by state officials, "The overcrowding and health care conditions cited by this Court to support its population reduction order are now a distant memory."
The filing stated that California has reduced its inmate population by nearly 42,000 since 2006.
In addition, the filing said that California has:
- Increased inmate capacity significantly through construction initiatives; and
- Made several improvements to prison medical and mental health systems.
According to the filing, "California's vastly improved prison health care system now provides inmates with superior care that far exceeds the minimum requirements of the Constitution."
In addition, the documents said that court-ordered reductions could force the state to release dangerous or violent inmates.
The filing stated, "Therefore, this Court must vacate the 137.5% population cap order issued when it was believed that quality health care could not be provided at a higher population density" (Sacramento Bee, 1/8).