News


Court extends deadline for California prison reduction

State now has until February 2016 to lower adult prison population to 137.5%

A federal three-judge panel Monday gave Gov. Jerry Brown's administration a two-year extension of a deadline for reducing the number of inmates in the state's overcrowded prisons.

The judges said they were reluctant to extend the deadline, but were doing so because the state has now proposed a plan for a long-term, sustainable solution to overcrowding.

"Resolving the conditions in California prisons for the long run, and not merely for the next few months, is of paramount importance to this court as well as to the people of this state," the panel said.

The court order was made in two long-running civil rights lawsuits in which the judges had previously ruled that the only way to correct constitutionally inadequate medical care in the prison system was to reduce the number of inmates.

The deadline is now Feb. 28, 2016, for the state to reduce the population of its 34 adult prisons to 137.5% of the capacity they were designed to hold.

Corrections and Rehabilitation Department spokesman Jeffrey Callison said that would require a reduction of 5,470 inmates from the current population of 117,634.

The inmate numbers were previously reduced by about 25,000 as a result of the state's realignment policy, which shifts low-level offenders to county jails.

The extension comes with strict conditions agreed to by state officials. The administration, which has repeatedly appealed orders by the three-judge panel in the past, agreed not to appeal further or to seek additional extensions, according to Monday's order.

The court will appoint a compliance officer, and if benchmarks for reducing the population are not met, the officer will have the power to order the release of prisoners.

The state also agreed to increase credits for non-violent, second-strike offenders, expand parole for elderly and medically infirm inmates, and consider establishing a commission to recommend sentencing law reforms.

The state was also ordered not to send more than the current number of 8,900 inmates to out-of-state prisons.

Brown issued a statement Monday saying, "It is encouraging that the three-judge court has agreed to a two-year extension.

"The state now has the time and resources necessary to help inmates become productive members of society and make our communities safer," the governor said.

— Bay City News Service

Comments

Posted by Citizen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2014 at 8:42 am

Like GITMO!!?


Posted by B. Cayenne Bird, a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2014 at 7:32 pm

While the remaining prisoners will hopefully be released in three deadlines, it is very important to recognize that Jerry Brown is spending billions of our human services and education budgets to build new prisons and jails. He must be stopped at the ballot box. Brown's indeterminate sentencing laws, which he got passed in the 1970's, are at the core of the entire overcrowding crisis.


On the topic of indeterminate sentencing laws, considering SB 40 which has been delayed under different bill numbers several times from gaining compliance, I wonder how the judges could have missed this unconstitutional sentencing mandated by the Supreme Court. I've tracked SB 40 to July, 2013 where the legislature had a bill underway to delay compliance with fixing California's indeterminate sentencing laws, which the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional in 2007. So, apparently they tried here to extend compliance until 2017, after all those unconstitutionally sentenced are not complaining at all because the situation is way over their heads in a legal sense about exactly what transpired.

But there is resistance from the CACJ lawyers. Jeff Adachi inspired them and had their backing when he fought so valiantly for this in 2007. I am checking now to see what became of this bill sb 463. Another trick the lawmakers do is to keep changing bill numbers and have "related" legislation in progress at the same time. Then, as with SB 40, they slam dunk these powerful bills before any opposition can rise. Web Link


Posted by B. Cayenne Bird, a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2014 at 7:33 pm

Item (a) pg. 3 makes me a bit uncomfortable and that's the "good time" credits. The prison guards and administrators use good time credits as a form of revenge-seeking in order to keep the inmates from filing complaints and lawsuits. I really don't see how this can be a valid path to sentencing reduction when the present system is so flawed. Retribution for no reason is very real, especially against inmate lawyers.


Posted by B. Cayenne Bird, a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2014 at 7:34 pm

Why does the order specify non-violent SECOND STRIKE prisoners and not mention non-violent THIRD STRIKE prisoners? Is it because they are assuming that the initiative which was already passed covers those inmates? If so, the judges may not realize that even with the watered down passage of the last initiative by the Stanford faculty and students, there is still a provision of "non-serious" as well as "non-violent" final strikes. This new law needs more stipulation than just "non-serious" to be effective. I wonder why the judges just addressed SECOND STRIKES in the order?


Posted by B. Cayenne Bird, a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2014 at 7:35 pm

While the remaining prisoners will hopefully be released in three deadlines, it is very important to recognize that Jerry Brown is spending billions of our human services and education budgets to build new prisons and jails. He must be stopped at the ballot box. Brown's indeterminate sentencing laws, which he got passed in the 1970's, are at the core of the entire overcrowding crisis.


Posted by Burt, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2014 at 10:08 pm

Yo, Bird, you are very very confused. Since the late 1970s, the criminal justice system in California has had a DETERMINATE sentencing policy, not an INDETERMINATE policy as you repeat, erroneously, many times.

Determinate sentencing -- yes, signed into law by Brown in 1977 or thereabouts -- has little to do with prison overcrowding in California. I repeat: Determinate sentencing has little to do with prison overcrowding in California. DETERMINATE sentencing imposes a floor and a ceiling for sentencing -- say, 2-4 years for a specific crime, which might move closer to 4 if guns or violence were involved in the crime, and move closer to 2 where there is no gun or violence involved. This does not contribute to prison overcrowding.

There are many far more serious causes of prison overcrowding. These include: (1) a rather shoddy parole system that returns far too many prisoners to prison for technical/admin/trans.PETTY reasons; (2) three-strikes law, whereby approximately 20-25% of California prison inmates are being held, for life; but, without doubt the most serious contributor to California's insanely overcrowded conditions are arcane and unfair drug laws that put drug users behind bars instead of in rehab programs.

I don't know what your agenda is. But you really need to either go back to the books or get some serious legal assistance. Best of luck to you.


Posted by Lock 'em Up, a resident of Carriage Gardens
on Feb 13, 2014 at 7:17 pm

There is no denying that stricter law enforcement and sentencing guidelines have led to reduction of the crime in our society. Make all the arguments you like about "overcrowding", the point is that prinsons work at lowering crime.

The reason that we have overcrowded prisons is that the Democrats have blocked every effort to build new prinsons. The judge who made this ruling will not even allow California to send any more criminals to prisons in other states. If he really is concerned more about overcrowding than pandering to the prison unions, why not encourage such transfers to uncrowded prisons?

Why must the innocent in our society be made victims of the troubled/violent/perverted just so some Leftis can feel good about "reforming" the unreformable. By the third strike the criminal has done an excellent job of convincing us that he is unreformable. Give him his rightful reward of a permanent residence in a strict California prison.


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