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Supreme Court Orders California to Lose as Many as 46,000 Prisoners

Posted on May 23, 2011
Rob Shenk (CC-BY-SA)

California’s overcrowded prisons have “fallen short of minimum constitutional requirements,” causing “needless suffering and death,” according to a 5-4 majority of the U.S. Supreme Court. The state, which imposes draconian sentences on repeat offenders, must now find a way to reduce its prison population by at least 38,000 inmates.

Gov. Jerry Brown hopes to comply with the ruling without actually releasing any offenders. Instead, he plans to offload felons into county jails, though that would take longer than required by the court.  —PZS

Los Angeles Times:

California now has two weeks to produce a plan that would reduce its prison population by more than 33,000 inmates within two years. Cate said the state could ask a federal three-judge panel for more time to reach the lower inmate number. He said Brown’s proposal to shift thousands of state prisoners to county jails would reduce the state’s prison population by about 30,000 inmates over the next four years.

“It would solve quite a bit of this problem,” he said, but not as quickly as the courts would like.

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politicky's avatar

By politicky, May 26, 2011 at 12:09 pm Link to this comment


“Whether or not the California prisons are for-profit
businesses is not mentioned.  It is my understanding that
privatized prisons are make a tidy profit reaping the benefits
of ‘The War on Drugs’ and ‘Three Strikes and You’re Out.’”

State prisons are funded by the state budget.  Other than that
I agree with everything in your comment smile  The nonviolent
drug offenders in prison are something like 20% nationwide,
but digging out State statistics is not my specialty.

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By Jimnp72, May 24, 2011 at 7:17 pm Link to this comment

surfnow: I second your thoughts.

The prison system is totally f’ked up as it is brutal, fourth world and self-perpetuating.
Let us try to stay out of it and dismantle it as best we can.

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By TDoff, May 24, 2011 at 4:20 pm Link to this comment

The easy ‘out’ for California, would be to start calling all their ‘prisoners’, ‘Votes’, and ship as many as they want to lose to Dade County, Florida.

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, May 24, 2011 at 3:45 pm Link to this comment

Easy- find the 38,000 inmates with the shortest times reamining on their sentences and spring ‘em loose.

Well, that wouldn’t be fair to those who are serving big time for dope.

How about releasing all the non-violent offenders?

No. That wouldn’t work either, because you’re talking about white collar crime mostly, and the result would skew the prison population more towards minorities than it already is.

I know. A lottery. Sort of like the Vietnam era draft. Perfect.

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By gerard, May 24, 2011 at 9:45 am Link to this comment

Including all those releases suggested previously, add training in alternatives to violence as part of all prison guard training, and within prison institute regular training programs for prisoners. (See Wikipedia for a very brief account of what the Alternatives to Violence Project is.  It’s a growing
practice and is making positive changes in many prisons.  Just needs more support.  Also Google
Alternatives to Violence

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By Inherit The Wind, May 24, 2011 at 9:39 am Link to this comment

It’s always amazed me that the pharmas opposed medical MJ and the Congress let them get away with it.
It’s not that MJ doesn’t work as an anti-nausea and appetite stimulus.  It does.
It’s not that it’s not proven: Canabinol is available by prescription and it’s the same damn thing.
It’s that pharma drugs cost hundred or thousands a month per patient, and MJ comes in under pocket change.

That’s the only reason.  But assholes like Mitch McConnell and Lindsay Graham will get up and passionately argue that it would be disastrous for the nation to legalize medical marijuana.

They do the same with medical heroin.  I watched my Dad die and they gave him morphine, lots of morphine. Sure, it controlled his pain as well as heroin would, but it made him sleep much of his last weeks away, and caused him to hallucinate, which upset him terribly when he realized he was doing it (Dad was sharp as a razor till the end—other than the effects of the morphia).  Yet the same assholes will BITTERLY oppose it.

Not logical, simply defending someone’s position who makes a profit at someone else’s expense. California they do near-everything by “Proposition” and that’s when you get some asshole who says “Y’know, there oughta be a law against…..” whatever.  And he/she gathers a lot more assholes, but still a small minority to get it on a ballot and, some rich asshole (usually named Koch or Murdoch) funds it.  Pols wet themselves trying to read whether this is the next tsunamior not.

And you wonder why we are in such a financial mess, and Cali is in 10x worse????????

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By copjaw47, May 24, 2011 at 5:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If you really think that state prison systems are for profit, then you out of touch with reality.  Though there are some private prison out there for profit, your state prison is not.  It cost more money then you think to house, feed, dress, and provide medical treatment, and to secure.

Building a prison and a secure prison is very expensive, your tax dollars are paying for that.

Feeding every inmate 3 meals a day, again that cost money, it is not given to them for free, and the inmates sure are not paying for the meal provided.

Clothing, all inmate are given uniforms at the expense of you the tax payer, yes I know, they wont win a fashion contest, but it does cost you.

And what about medical cost, each prison has nurses, doctors and medical staff, and if an inmate need more medical treatment then the prison can provide, they are taken to a local hospital, once again on the tax payers dime.  In the prison I work at, one inmate was in the hospital for several weeks, and yes we paid the bill.

wake up, if you think all prison are for profile, then maybe the world will come to an End on May 21,  OPS that’s Oct. 21.

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By surfnow, May 24, 2011 at 4:32 am Link to this comment

Yeah, its called end this stupid War on DRugs- like the War on Terror it’s just another neoliberal- privatization- money making scheme for rich capitalists. Not just California, but in the entire US- decriminalize drugs and the prison population would go from 3 million to 900K. Of course it will never happen though- way too many lobbyists oppose- BigPharma, the alcohol industry, privatized prison contractors -and last but certainly not least -the moronic, brainwashed Amerikan public.

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By Business Bankruptcy, May 24, 2011 at 2:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

his is a no-brainer: simply release all the non-violent drug offenders in California prisons.

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kerryrose's avatar

By kerryrose, May 24, 2011 at 2:31 am Link to this comment


The prison system is a for-profit venture.  There is no desire to reduce costs because throwing everyone in, and keeping them as long as possible is called profit.

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Virginia777's avatar

By Virginia777, May 23, 2011 at 11:26 pm Link to this comment


“ok let’s start with all those people who were juveniles tried as adults who are still in prison”

Exactly, gritona.

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By yair, May 23, 2011 at 10:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


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By bat dong san, May 23, 2011 at 8:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

They must moralise for their whole life

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By gritona, May 23, 2011 at 7:40 pm Link to this comment

ok let’s start with all those people who were juveniles tried as adults who are still in prison

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By Rogelio, May 23, 2011 at 7:29 pm Link to this comment

The California penal system is beyond repair because of overcrowding. Criminals need to be incarcerated for their crimes because if there are no consequences for criminal activity, then our soeicty is doomed. I wish we had more prisons to lock up these criminals.

Therefore, if we need to release thousands of inmates, what is the possibility of relocating them into the affluent areas of California? The sad truth is that theses criminals will move into impoverished areas of our state, and contribute to the spiraling criminal cycle of misery and despair that plague these communities.

You know that there is something wrong with our system when the average price of housing a prisoner is nearly $50,000 a year. Correctional officers are clearly deserving of the pay, but all of the other costs are simply bullsh@@.

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kerryrose's avatar

By kerryrose, May 23, 2011 at 5:45 pm Link to this comment

Whether or not the California prisons are for-profit businesses is not mentioned.  It is my understanding that privatized prisons are make a tidy profit reaping the benefits of ‘The War on Drugs’ and ‘Three Strikes and You’re Out.’

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By Inherit The Wind, May 23, 2011 at 5:21 pm Link to this comment

berniem, May 23 at 5:16 pm Link to this comment

There’s a moral in this somewhere!

Like, when you let a Republican become President because you’re too fuckin’ busy standing on “principles” to ensure the Democrat gets elected, you get Alito, Roberts, Thomas and Scalia on the Supreme Court.

Hell, you get Kennedy too, but at least this time he followed the Bill of Rights.

That’s a moral for you! Scalia is Reagan’s Revenge, and the other 3 were the Bush family’s revenge.

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By berniem, May 23, 2011 at 5:16 pm Link to this comment

There’s a moral in this somewhere!

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