Brown Says Calif. Might Release 10,000 Inmates Under Population Cap

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On Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) said the state will prepare to release as many as 10,000 inmates if it is forced to obey court-ordered prison population caps, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports (Siders, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 4/16).

Background

In 2006, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson ruled that federal oversight of the state's prison health care system was needed after determining that an average of one inmate per week died as a result of medical malpractice or neglect (California Healthline, 4/12).

A federal court ordered that California decrease its prison population by 9,000 inmates to help improve prison health care ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 4/16).

In January, Brown's administration filed a request for the state to regain oversight of the prison system. The request stated that California has reduced its inmate population and improved prison medical and mental health care.

Last week, a panel of federal judges rejected Brown's request.

The judges ruled that the court-ordered prison population caps still are necessary to address substandard conditions that have resulted in unconstitutionally poor inmate care.

In their ruling, the judges said Brown has provided "no convincing evidence" that prison overcrowding is no longer a problem.

California prisons hold 119,542 inmates, 149.5% of the number they were designed to accommodate, according to a report released earlier this month by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (California Healthline, 4/12).

Comments From Brown

Last week, Brown said he would not comply with the prison population cap "until the Supreme Court tells us that we're not on the right track."

On Tuesday, Brown said, "We certainly will appeal whatever we can appeal, and I think there is a lot or room there." However, he added, "[a]t the same time ... we'll have a list of 9,000 or 10,000 of our finer inmates that will be ready for neighborhood visitations" ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 4/16).

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