California's prison system has hit a milestone, with new figures showing that the inmate population inside the state's 34 adult prisons has fallen below a court-ordered cap more than a year ahead of schedule, the Sacramento Bee reports. After legal battles that went to the U.S. Supreme Court, the state's prison population has been decreasing steadily. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation put the latest inmate numbers at 113,463, below the cap of 137.5 percent of capacity set by a panel of federal judges in 2009. The prison system's design capacity is 82,707 inmates, and the population as of midnight last night was 137.2 percent of capacity.
Corrections spokeswoman Deborah Hoffman said. “We're clearly making progress, but much work remains.” One of the lead inmate attorneys in the effort to force reductions in the prison population called the development a “significant moment.” California's prisons steadily filled in the 1990s as tough-on-crime measures such as the “three-strikes” law won public support. In November 2006, the prison population hit 162,804. Under the latest court orders, California has until Feb. 28, 2016, to cut its inmate population to the 137.5 percent benchmark