Gov. Jerry Brown and his top state prison official are about to find out how mad they’ve made the three federal judges overseeing California’s overcrowded prison system, reports the San Jose Mercury News. Lawyers for prison inmates yesterday asked the three-judge panel to find Brown and Jeffrey Beard, the state’s corrections chief, in contempt for failing to comply with orders requiring the administration to meet a Dec. 31 deadline for reducing the prison population.
Citing “willful defiance” by the governor and his staff, the inmates’ lawyers argue the federal court must take strong action to force the state to shed another 10,000 inmates to cut the prison population to about 110,000 at the end of this year. The federal judges previously found California’s prisons so overcrowded that they deny adequate medical and mental health care to inmates. The inmates’ lawyers want judges to order the state to release more low risk prisoners to solve the overcrowding. Brown said this week he is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.