The Supreme Court today, by a 5-4 vote, upheld a court order that requires California to cut its prison population by as many as 46,000 inmates to improve health care for those behind bars. The Associated Press said the ruling, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy and supported by the court’s four relatively liberal justices, said the action is “required by the Constitution” to correct longstanding violations of inmates' rights.
Kennedy, who included photos of severe overcrowding, wrote that ,”the violations have persisted for years. They remain uncorrected.” Dissenting Justice Antonin Scalia said the lower-court order is “perhaps the most radical injunction issued by a court in our nation's history.” The California prison system in 2009 averaged nearly a death each week that might have been prevented or delayed with better medical care. The state's 33 adult prisons hold more than 142,000 inmates in facilities designed for 80,000.