California’s prison system, declaring a state of emergency, has begun triple-bunking prisoners in two-person cells in response to an increase in the number of inmates, says the Los Angeles Times. The corrections department says 1,200 unexpected inmates, most headed for maximum-security prisons, are arriving from financially strapped counties that can no longer house them in jails. The emergency declaration took effect April 1 but was not made public. It sparked criticism from lawmakers who learned about it yesterday.
The state now is using emergency overcrowding measures in five prisons, which likely will drive up overtime for guards as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is trying to cut back those costs. As of April 14, there were 162,456 inmates in the system, an increase of 2,592 over the same time last year. A spokesperson said the prison population “is approaching historical highs.”