Category Archives: prison overcrowding
The continuing saga of California’s massively overcrowded prisons hit’s a new low this week. SCOTUS refused to hear Cali’s request to stay the order issued by a federal panel of Judge’s recently. From Jurist:
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation issued a plan Friday to reduce prison overcrowding as orderedby a special panel of federal judges in August, but the plan falls short of the order’s requirements. According to the CDCR, the plan could reduce the overcrowding rate from 190 percent to 155 percent in the next three years. This falls short of the federal court order requiring a reduction to 137.5 percent, or a release of nearly 43,000 inmates from the state’s 33 prison facilities, in the next two years. The plan provides various ways of reducing the overcrowding rate including transferring more prisoners to out-of-state prisons, GPS monitoring of inmates who violate parole, commuting sentences of inmates who are eligible for deportation, and building new facilities or converting unused space. It is not clear what action the court will take against the CDCR for failing to meet its mandate, but options include holding Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in contempt of court or instituting its own plan. With its filing of the plan, the CDCR also said that is was not abandoning its appeal of the special panel’s ruling to the US Supreme Court.
Last week, the Supreme Court denied California’s request to stay the court order temporarily. The special panel’s ruling was the result of a lawsuit brought by two inmates against the state’s prison system, alleging that the overcrowding had resulted in a failure to provide adequate physical and mental health care, depriving them of their constitutional rights. The prison system in the state was originally built to handle around 80,000 prisoners, and it is estimated that there are currently 168,000 inmates being held in those facilities.
Like rats in a cage, the inmates of California’s prison system are stacked in every available space throughout the state’s prisons. The inevitable will occur, just like when too many rats live in one cage.
No one is saying they should all be set free. What I am saying is this:
If you fuckers can’t provide them with the most basic of human services, you need to deal with the consequences of your actions. NOW muthafuckas.
This has gone on far too long. Even SCOTUS is not amused. They are human beings first, prisoners second.
It has been a long time coming, but there is now a final ruling on Cali’s huge overcrowded prisons. From Jurist:
The US Supreme Court on Friday effectively required California to carry out a lower court’s order and come up with a plan to reduce the number of inmates in its prisons. In a brief order, the Court said that it would not stay an earlier order by a special federal court panel compelling California to create a plan that will reduce the state’s overcrowding from its current level of 190 percent of maximum capacity to a more manageable 137.5 percent. The Supreme Court, however, noted that California was only appealing its need to create a plan to reduce prison overcrowding and that, ultimately, the Supreme Court would have a say in the special panel’s final order for the California prison system.
In its earlier order, the lower court noted that that due to extremely poor medical care, one inmate was “dying needlessly every six or seven days.” In August 2008, California’s court-appointed prison medical overseer J.Clark Kelso asked the court to force the state to add 8 billion dollars over the next five years to bring prison healthcare to constitutionally acceptable standards. In response to a 2006 order to reduce overcrowding, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered the transfer of some prisoners out-of-state. (emphasis mine)
It really pisses me the fuck off that Cali prisons are so grossly over-crowded and yet the state has been fighting tooth and nail to keep the status quo intact. I thought we had more compassionate liberals here than most states.
How would lowering the prison population to 137 percent of capacity make them easier to manage? From a 2006 report:
Since 1990, the prison population has increased by 73 percent – nearly three times faster than the general adult population. California prisons currently hold about 171,000 adults; approximately 616 per 100,000 adults in California are in state prison. California ranks 17th among all states for incarceration rates.
Gee, somehow I thought we ranked higher in incarceration rates. What a relief that we are only 17th. (snark alert)
California spends over $10 Billion dollars a year on prisons. That is 11 percent of our general fund.
Is it possible that we have such massive overcrowding because our state government has cut or ended most programs that rehabilitate prisoners, thereby increasing the recidivism rate? From HuffPo on this subject:
California on the other hand is going in the opposite direction. They have eliminated drug treatment programs, sex offender counseling and virtually every program which prepares inmates to live healthy, productive lives after they are released. These cuts allow the prisons to keep the maximum number of inmates incarcerated, but with no programs to occupy their time productively. Why? It certainly isn’t making us safer.
Fuck no it doesn’t make us safer. Even TX has more common sense on this issue than Cali does.
So now, Ahnold will finally have to deal with the prison overcrowding issue, as will the idiots in the State Assembly. They have wasted years fighting the fed’s on this issue, but now it’s time to shut-the-fuck-up and fix it.
All the law and order types will now commence screeching and bitching about letting criminals out on the streets. They have no one to blame but themselves.
A special panel of Federal Judges has ruled that CA must remedy the massive overcrowding in our state prisons by releasing up to 57k worth of jailed inmates. From Jurist:
A special panel of federal judges tentatively ruled (pdf) Monday that California must reduce its prison population in order to relieve overcrowding. Based on the evidence presented, the panel concluded that overcrowding has resulted in the state’s failure to deliver constitutionally-adequate mental and physical health care to inmates. The panel found that a release order is the only appropriate remedy for the unconstitutional prison conditions, stating:
Other forms of relief suggested by various participants are without adequate evidentiary support or appear infeasible as well as incapable of curing the violations presently existing in the California prison system.
State Attorney General Jerry Brown opposed the decision, commenting, “The court’s tentative ruling is not constitutionally justified. Therefore, the state will appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court when the final order is issued.” The release order would mean that prisons could only hold 120-145 percent of design capacity, requiring the early release of an estimated 36,000 to 57,000 inmates. Those opposed to the release order fear that the state does not have the funds for the support programs associated with the release of such a large number of inmates, but the panel asserted that decreasing the number of inmates could save the state $900 million annually in prison costs.
I am hoping that means a lot of the folks in jail for cannabis will be set free. This has been on going for years now. The Federal government has been ordering CA to properly care for it’s inmates but the rulings fall on deaf ears evidently.
The reason is ironically healthcare and the disgusting lack of basic healthcare for state inmates. They are packed in like friggin sardines as witnessed below. Rats overcrowded like this go crazy…
So do humans…
From the press release at DPA:
The Drug Policy Alliance Network (DPA’s partner organization) and the 760,000 voters who signed petitions have been working to get the Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act (NORA), the most ambitious sentencing and prison reform in U.S. history, on the California ballot in November.
When NORA goes before voters in November, Californians will have the opportunity to take reform into their own hands and implement common-sense solutions to prison overcrowding. NORA will protect public safety and save taxpayers billions of dollars, by safely shrinking the size of the nonviolent prison population by tens of thousands within just a few years.
NORA gives us the opportunity to stop letting addiction drive incarceration in California. NORA would give tens of thousands of nonviolent offenders access to treatment-instead-of-incarceration and rehabilitation programs—a change that would dramatically improve people’s lives, reduce the number of people locked up unnecessarily and decrease the likelihood of recidivism.
NORA would make treatment accessible to young people for the first time in the state. And the measure would make low-level marijuana possession an infraction—like a traffic ticket—rather than a misdemeanor, a sentencing change that could affect 40,000 people a year and conserve millions of dollars in court resources for other, more serious cases.
As the state’s budget deficit continues to rise, NORA gives voters the opportunity to stop letting the prison system soak up an ever-increasing portion of state spending. Instead, NORA presents the state with an option for more effective—and less costly—policies to protect public safety and make sure there are sufficient resources to go around. The nonpartisan legislative analyst projects that NORA will save at least $2.5 billion in prison construction savings because new facilities will not need to be built.
With our state prison system under Federal Receivership, we need NORA to pass this November. Talk to your friends about and get them onboard.