The Supreme Court rejected Gov. Jerry Brown’s request to delay the release of nearly 10,000 inmates in a 6-3 decision Friday,
the Associated Press reports.
Conservative Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Antonin Scalia would have granted Brown’s request. The California governor asked for the delay to protect public safety.
A three-judge panel ordered Brown to release the inmates by the end of the year because of a huge overcrowding problem in the California prison system. The decision was a result of two separate class actions filed by mentally and physically ill inmates, the Sacramento Bee reported.
The 10,000-inmate reduction will put the prison system at 137.5% capacity, which would be an improvement over the current situation.
“We are compelled to enforce the Federal Constitution and to enforce the constitutional rights of all persons, including prisoners,” the three-judge panel wrote in June.
California has already started expanding parole programs and releasing its lowest-risk inmates, the Los Angeles Times reports. Since October 2011, the state has cut its prison population by 25,000.
Brown says he’s only identified 1,025 more inmates who have committed nonviolent crimes and have less than a year left to serve.
Now Brown says he’s worried that releasing additional inmates would force the state to release “offenders with a history of serious or violent offenses who are very likely to commit more serious crimes, impacting already stretched law enforcement, social service, mental health, and substance use treatment resources of counties.”
Read more here.
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