When a judge orders you to do something, most of us know you really need get it done. And if a three-judge panel orders you to do something, it’s a pretty serious matter. This is true whether you are a “regular joe” or the Governor of California. Failure to follow through on a court order could lead to civil fines or even arrest and jail time on contempt charges, and that’s exactly what some inmates are hoping for when it comes to Governor Jerry Brown.
According to the Silicon Valley Mercury News, lawyers for inmates within the California penal system have filed a request asking the federal judges overseeing California’s overcrowded prisons case to hold Governor Brown and Corrections Chief Jeffrey Beard in contempt. The state has failed to live up to the orders of the court, they say, and someone needs to be held responsible.
The federal court found a few years ago that the state’s overcrowding was leading to inmates being denied proper medical and mental health care. They ordered a significant reduction in the prison population, a reduction that was supposed to have been met by a Dec. 31st deadline. That deadline has came and went and Gov. Brown believes he has done “good enough”. In response, the court issued another deadline—saying Brown has to reduce the prison population by another 10,000 by the end of this year.
Attorneys for the inmates have cited “willful defiance” on the part of Brown and say the federal judges need to take a hard stand against the state to show the seriousness of the matter. But Brown has appealed the original orders and will likely have to wait until this fall to even learn if the high court will revisit the issue.
This wouldn’t be the first time the Supreme Court saw the case. They affirmed the original ruling back in 2009. Brown says that by now they have reduced the population enough to remedy the underlying problem—lack of quality care—and that their efforts should be rewarded by removing the population requirements.
A contempt charge, should the three-judge panel move forward with it, could result in civil fines or even jail time. But, these results aren’t likely. In any case, the issue of California prison overcrowding, federal involvement, and Brown’s nose-thumbing aren’t likely to die out anytime soon.
In this country, we incarcerate more people per capital than any nation in the world. As the “land of the free”, this is disturbing. When those inmates are the subjected to inhumane conditions, it’s deplorable.
If you are charged with a drug crime or any offense, you don’t want to become a part of this “system” and avoiding prison time should be your top concern.