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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Still too many prisoners in California (Editorial)

LA TimesIt may come as a disappointment to Gov. Jerry Brown — but it certainly should not come as a surprise — that a panel of federal judges rejected his request that they return control of California's still-overcrowded prison system to the state. The network of 33 state prisons continues to hold more than 9,000 inmates beyond the court's mandated cap, and Brown's administration has not presented a realistic plan to eliminate that excess, even though the court has extended the deadline for compliance from June 30 to the end of the year.

Brown is vowing to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, and more power to him. He argues that medical and mental health care provided in California's prisons, recently so abysmal as to be deemed cruel and unusual punishment, is now the nation's best, and perhaps he is right. But even so, the courts can be expected to retain jurisdiction until the target inmate population is reached, and until the justices are assured that new standards of care in the prisons are a permanent part of the institutional culture and not merely a short break after decades of unconscionable inmate treatment.

It's important to remember the level to which California's prisons had sunk, and at which they remained just a few years ago. In the 2011 Brown vs. Plata opinion, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy detailed the harrowing conditions, including holding suicidal inmates for hours in cages without toilets, forcing them to stand in pools of their own urine. Why? Waits for needed mental health care lasted as long as a year, and in the meantime there was no place else to put at-risk prisoners. Suicide rates were 80% higher than in prisons in other states. Sick inmates died of readily treatable illnesses. Contracting a disease meant in some cases being rounded up into a cell of 50 other sick inmates.

Prisons should not coddle prisoners or provide them with gold-plated treatment, but neither should they treat inmates so poorly that they are essentially being physically tortured or left to die because of neglect. continue reading...


Relavent said...

Unfortunately the brain trust the Governor relied upon was not up to the task. The results of piss poor efforts to improve prison conditions speaks for themselves.

The three stooges would have been better suited to lead the department. Especially when you consider what has gone wrong with all the knee jerk responses used to create the plan that has failed California. Unless of course, the public safety was never taken into consideration other than being deemed an acceptable risk worth taking. The risk taken by now should have opened the eyes of politicians, judges, CDCR executives and the powerful bean counting wizards behind the curtains of prisenyland madness.

Anonymous said...

The state of the prison system now, is solely because of Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was the one that appointed Roderick Hickman and created CDC-r. Then started to close vocations, educations, industries and other assorted rehabilitation programs. Then told the judges to take over, he did not care. Unfortunately, the current group in charge just continues those policies and has not reversed one thing created way back then. It is like they are afraid to say "that is fucken stupid so stop that shit".

Relavent said...

True! the general public did not know they put a problem in the Governor's office, when they elected the silver screen action hero who was a public safety zero.