The U.S. Supreme Court ordered the state of California to reduce its overall prison population to 112,000 by June of 2013 in order to ensure all inmates would have access to reasonable health care. This would mark a reduction of 33,000 inmates, something the state now says it simply can’t do.
In a late filing brought before a three-judge federal panel, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has asked that the state be allowed to decrease prison numbers to 180,000 instead, a number that they say they can achieve and still maintain quality health care.
State lawyers said that by conforming with the original order, the state would have to come under significant “and legally unnecessary costs.” They went on to say that the Court didn’t authorize the early release of prisoners, but that is exactly what would have to happen to meet the 112,000 goal by next spring.
The Supreme Court handed down the dramatic ruling last year when it found that overcrowding in the California penal institutions was a cause of poor health care. In 2007, the issue came to the attention of the nation when U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson of San Francisco said that the lack of quality medical care in prison was responsible for the death of one inmate per week, on average.
Even the reduction to 112,000 inmates would leave the prisons overcrowded—operating at 137.5 percent capacity.
Last October, the state began chipping away at the issue, reassigning some inmates to county jails through Governor Brown’s “realignment program.” But officials say unless the target is reduced, they will have to cancel plans to return 5,000 California inmates currently serving sentences in other states.
These inmates are held throughout the country at a cost of about $300 million, according to the San Francisco Gate.
The prison-industrial complex has grown to alarming proportions across the country and that is most evident in California, where inmates are literally stacked on top of one another in dorm-like settings in order to get the most out of every square food of prison space.
This mass-incarceration isn’t only ruining the lives of the incarcerated, but their families who are left without breadwinners and fathers.
If you are facing criminal charges, from marijuana distribution to assault, you could be facing serious time. You need someone on your side who is interested in helping you get positive results and helping you avoid prison whenever possible. Contact our offices today to discuss your case and how we might be able to help.