[JURIST] California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger [official website] issued an emergency proclamation [text; press release] Wednesday to relieve prison overcrowding by allowing inmates to be transferred to other states. Citing severe overcrowding as a threat to the health and safety in 29 of the state's 33 prisons, Schwarzenegger said: "Our prisons are now beyond maximum capacity, and we must act immediately and aggressively to resolve this issue. These actions are necessary to protect the safety and well being of the officers, inmates and the public." The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) [official website], which has been forced to house more than 15,000 inmates in gymnasiums and other areas not designed as living space, estimates it will run out of beds as early as June 2007. More than 19,000 inmates expressed interest in transferring to a correctional facility outside California, and the CDCR is studying facilities in nine other states.
California prison reform [CDCR backgrounder] was also at issue when a federal judge ordered the establishment of an expert panel to reform Los Angeles jails after racially motivated riots broke out [JURIST reports] earlier this year. California Youth and Adult Corrections Secretary Roderick Hickman [official profile] resigned [JURIST report] in February after a two-year attempt to reform the prison system, citing lack of political support for reforms that address problems such as overcrowding, an aging inmate population and entrenched gang activity. The CDCR houses more than 171,000 youth and adult convicts and employs 59,000 throughout the state. Reuters has more.