Supreme Court rejects California prison overcrowding appeal

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013 - 8:43 am
Last Modified: Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013 - 5:20 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected Gov. Jerry Brown's appeal in the state's prison overcrowding case, leaving California under federal court order to reduce its prison population by nearly 8,000 inmates by Jan. 27.

The court's action, in which it dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, leaves intact an order by a panel of three federal judges that the state's prison population be cut to 137.5 percent of capacity by early next year.

State officials did not have an immediate response to the court's move, but attorneys for the inmates hailed it as a victory.

“The Supreme Court’s Order dismissing California’s latest appeal of the 3 Judge Court’s Orders is a strong affirmation and message to the State: Your prisons are still dangerous and broken,” inmate attorney Michael Bien said in a statement in response to today’s order. "There is still much work to be done to meet Constitutional standards for medical and mental health care.

"The federal courts will not accept a partial symbolic fix that has not remedied fundamental and serious violations that are still causing unnecessary and avoidable pain, suffering and death.”

Brown's administration already has said it will not allow a mass release of inmates and has taken steps to lease private prison space to hold inmates, if necessary.

The state contends that adding private beds will leave it roughly 4,000 inmates over the court ordered limit.

In the meantime, the state and attorneys for the inmates have been working under a court order that they meet and discuss possible solution to the overcrowding issue.

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