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Supreme Court to Review California Prison Plan

By Kamika Dunlap on June 16, 2010 12:55 PM

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger regarding the state's court ordered prison plan to reduce the inmate population by 2011.

The justices agreed to hear the state's appeal of the federal court order to cut its prison population by 46,000 in order to relieve its problems with prison overcrowding, the Associated Press reports. The court will review the case and decide whether the state must trim its prison population. The cuts would reduce more than one-fourth of California's prison population.

Last year, a federal court ordered the cuts to improve medical and mental health care throughout the state's sprawling corrections system, as previously discussed.

Although California acknowledges that its prison population is bursting at the seams, it also argues that a panel of three federal judges overstepped limits on its power to order changes in inmate rights cases.

Currently, California has about 165,000 inmates in its state prisons.

The case involves lawsuits dating as far back 1990 and allege intolerable prison conditions that violate the Constitution.

What caused California's inability to make its prisons offer even the bare minimum medical and mental health care? Overcrowding, according to the federal court's opinion.

Since the mid 1970's, California's prison population went from about 20,000 to over 160,000 in 2006. That's an increase of over 750%.

Since then, California's prisons have operated at around double their intended capacity, with some at almost triple capacity.

As previously discussed, other cost cutting measures to help California's prison system has included laying off hundreds of workers who run  rehabilitation programs.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has also suggested shipping some inmates Mexico as another way to save money, as previously discussed.

The Supreme Court will review California's plan to cut prison numbers beginning in October.

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