The AP reports:
The Supreme Court on Monday narrowly endorsed reducing California's cramped prison population by more than 30,000 inmates to fix sometimes deadly problems in medical care, ruling that federal judges retain enormous power to oversee troubled state prisons.
The court said in a 5-4 decision that the reduction is "required by the Constitution" to correct longstanding violations of inmates' rights to adequate care for their mental and physical health. In 2009, the state's prisons averaged nearly a death a week that might have been prevented or delayed with better medical care.
The order mandates a prison population of no more than 110,000 inmates, still far above the 80,000 the system was designed to hold.
There were more than 143,000 inmates in California's 33 adult prisons as of May 11, so roughly 33,000 inmates will need to be transferred to other jurisdictions or released.
So that's the answer to not having enough prisons relative to your inmate population.
I suppose building more prisons would be out of the question.
The court's four Democratic appointees joined with Kennedy in upholding a court order issued by three federal judges in California, all appointees of President Jimmy Carter.
Justice Antonin Scalia said in dissent that the court order is "perhaps the most radical injunction issued by a court in our nation's history" and that it did not comply with the Prison Litigation Reform Act, a 15-year-old law intended to limit the discretion of judges in lawsuits over prison conditions.
Justice Clarence Thomas joined Scalia's opinion, while Justice Samuel Alito wrote a separate dissent for himself and Chief Justice John Roberts.
Michael Bien, one of the lawyers representing inmates in the case, said, "The Supreme Court upheld an extraordinary remedy because conditions were so terrible."
The ruling comes amid efforts in many states, accelerated by budget gaps, to send fewer people to prison in the first place. Proposals vary by state, but include ways to reduce sentences for lower-level offenders, direct some offenders to alternative sentencing programs and give judges more discretion in sentencing.
"There's a growing consensus that there are better ways to run criminal justice systems," said Michael Mushlin, an expert on prisoners' rights at Pace Law School in White Plains, N.Y.
California did not immediately comment on the ruling.
Eighteen other states joined California in urging the justices to reject the population order as overreaching. They argued that it poses a threat to public safety. State attorneys general said they could face similar legal challenges.
Alito said he, too, feared that the decision, "like prior prisoner release orders, will lead to a grim roster of victims. I hope that I am wrong. In a few years, we will see."
Kennedy acknowledged the concern, but said the judges gave state officials flexibility in complying with the court order, including offering "early release only to those prisoners who pose the least risk of reoffending."
The 23% of the inmates in California who pose the least risk of reoffending must be safe to release, right?
But it stands to reason that states in the past which were made by the court system to release inmates would've also tried to release the least dangerous subsets of their prisoner populations, and yet Stephen Levitt showed court mandated prisoner releases to be correlated with increases in the crime rate which were extremely large relative to the number of prisoners released:
The Effect of Prison Population Size on Crime Rates: Evidence From Prison Overcrowding Litigation
Note: Golden Dawn is a political party in Greece, its MPs in the Greek Parliament have rightfully spoken out about what a sign of sickness it is when a system allows dangerous criminals to roam the streets even after they've been arrested and convicted of felonies:
Golden Dawn's website is found here:
Golden Dawn New York's website is found here: