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Monday, February 10, 2014

California gets 2 more years to cut prison numbers

APFederal judges on Monday gave California two more years to meet a court-ordered prison population cap, the latest step in a long-running lawsuit aimed at improving inmate medical care.

But in doing so, the judges said they would appoint a compliance officer who will release inmates early if the state fails to meet interim benchmarks or the final goal.

The order from the three-judge panel delayed an April deadline to reduce the prison population to about 112,164 inmates. California remains more than 5,000 inmates over a limit set by the courts, even though the state has built more prison space and used some private cells.

Gov. Jerry Brown's administration told the judges it can reach that level by the end of February 2016, with steps that include expanding a Stockton medical facility to house about 1,100 mentally ill inmates.

In addition, the administration says nearly 1,600 more inmates would be freed if they met one of several criteria, including: being medically incapacitated; being 60 or older and having served at least 25 years in prison; or being a nonviolent offender who is eligible because of an acceleration in awarding good-time credits.

The state said it also could release about 350 nonviolent second-strikers by making them eligible for parole after they served half their sentences. continue reading...

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