A state of emergency in California’s prison system to ease overcrowding was criticized by legislators yesterday, the Los Angeles Times reprots. Lawmakers questioned if the California Department of Corrections artificially inflated the inmate population to avoid budget cuts. They want to know why they weren’t informed of an influx of 1,200 inmates from county jails.
The additional population is forcing prisons to triple-bunk inmates in two-person cells – a practice condemned by lawyers for inmates.
Meanwhile, a coalition of advocacy groups proposed to overhaul the California Youth Authority, under scrutiny since the suicides of two inmates and the videotaped beatings of two others.
Lawyers for inmates said triple-bunking invariably increases stress and conflict. They said that, if maintained over the long-term, such cramped conditions could be a violation of prisoners’ civil rights. “Triple-bunking shows that the CDC is busting at the seams, and overcrowding can lead to serious violence, endangering staff and prisoners,” said Donald Specter of the nonprofit Prison Law Office.