In a scathing ruling, a federal three-judge panel has rejected Governor Jerry Brown’s request that it lift a court order placing a cap on California’s prison population. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.
The U.S. Supreme Court has told the state it must reduce its prison population to 137 percent of design capacity. The state got most of the way there. And in January, Governor Brown filed a motion asking the court to essentially say, that’s good enough. The answer from the court is a very clear “no.”
The judges write that even though Governor Brown may believe that prison overcrowding is no longer a problem in the delivery of timely and effective health services for inmates, that’s no excuse for his failure to comply with the orders of the court.
The panel gives the state 21 days to submit a plan to reach the cap – including, potentially, identifying prisoners for early release. And the judges threaten the state and governor with contempt of court if they don’t.
The ruling ends with these words: “Defendants will not be allowed to continue to violate the requirements of the Constitution of the United States.”