Arguing that California has made substantial progress in solving its prison overcrowding problem, state officials asked a federal court to dismiss its requirements for huge reductions in inmate populations, reports the Sacramento Bee. Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration said the court-ordered reductions could needlessly force the state to release dangerous or violent inmates. “The overcrowding and health care conditions cited by this Court to support its population reduction order are now a distant memory,” the court papers state. “California’s vastly improved prison health care system now provides inmates with superior care that far exceeds the minimum requirements of the Constitution.
A three-judge federal panel had ordered the state to cut population to 137.5 percent of capacity, down from nearly double the prison capacity, and said such reductions were necessary to maintain proper physical and mental health care in the 33 adult prisons. The state said the prison population had been reduced by over 24,000 inmates since October 2011, when public safety realignment went into effect, by more than 36,000 inmates compared to the 2008 population in the record at the evidentiary hearing, and by nearly 42,000 inmates since 2006 when plaintiffs moved to convene the three-judge court. The state prison system has been under siege for decades from prisoner lawsuits and federal court orders that have found the state was holding inmates in unsafe conditions.