Sacbee — For decades, California's political leaders have tried every imaginable approach to dealing with its overcrowded prisons - sending inmates out of state, fighting the federal courts all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, promising more prison beds and insisting that it has done plenty to cut inmate populations and improve health care.
On Thursday, a panel of three federal judges said they have had enough.
In a sharp rebuke of Gov. Jerry Brown, the judges said the state must take immediate steps to release inmates toward compliance with the panel's 2009 order that the prison population be reduced to 137.5 percent of capacity, an order the U.S. Supreme Court later adopted.
"The history of this litigation is of defendants' repeated failure to take the necessary steps to remedy the constitutional violations in its prison system," the panel wrote in a scathing 51-page order and opinion that demands the state immediately slash inmate levels or face a contempt citation.
"We are compelled to enforce the Federal Constitution and to enforce the constitutional rights of all persons, including prisoners," the panel wrote in an order that left no doubt the judges believe the state has intentionally defied its previous orders.
The latest one essentially requires the state to cut its inmate population by nearly 10,000 inmates by the end of the year, and to take steps to ensure that the count will not jump back above the 137.5 percent level. continue reading...