A Sacramento judge refused Monday to take the first step toward capping the population in California’s jam-packed prisons. Instead, he gave the state six months to show progress — or else, reports the Sacramento Bee. “This is your problem,” U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Karlton told lawyers for the Schwarzenegger administration, after saying “the court is not going to spend forever running the prison system.”
Plaintiffs attorneys in two inmate-rights class action suits had asked Karlton to appoint a three-judge panel to set a prison population limit. Even though Karlton put off that decision until June 4, the inmates’ lawyers still have chances in two other courtrooms of getting their three-judge panel–hearings Dec. 22 in Oakland and Jan. 8 in San Francisco. The lawyers expressed disappointment that Karlton declined to put a lid on a prison system that already has about 174,000 inmates and is crowded to twice its designed capacity.