The Supreme Court upheld an injunction to release 46,000 California inmates, more than 25 per cent of the state’s prison population over the next 24 months, to reduce overcrowding.The court ruled inmates in the state’s more than 30 prisons are being denied basic medical care as required by the constitution. The result has been “short of minimum constitutional requirements” and has resulted in “needless suffering and death.”
The state prisoner population is currently around 137% above capacity.
California Democrats have approved a contentious $302 million plan to move low-level offenders to county jails and other facilities.
The LA Times has more on the ruling by Justice Kennedy:
In presenting the decision, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a Sacramento native, spoke from the bench about suicidal prisoners being held in “telephone booth-sized cages without toilets” and others, sick with cancer or in severe pain, who died before being seen by a doctor. As many as 200 prisoners may live in a gymnasium, and as many as 54 may share a single toilet, he said.
Kennedy, whose opinion was joined by his four liberal colleagues, said the state’s prisons were built to hold 80,000 inmates, but were crowded with as many 156,000 a few years ago.
He cited a former Texas prison director who toured California lockups and described the conditions as “appalling,” “inhumane” and unlike any he had seen “in more than 35 years of prison work.”
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