[JURIST] California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger [official website] has abandoned a 2007 plan to release approximately 22,000 "lower risk" prisoners who have less than 20 months of their sentences remaining, according to a Tuesday report in the Sacramento Bee. The proposal was intended to cut a multi-billion dollar deficit and alleviate severe prison overcrowding [JURIST reports] in California's prison system [JURIST news archive], which has a population of over 170,000 despite being designed to hold only 100,000. The Bee cited administration officials as saying that the plan was dropped because more prisoners than expected are already leaving the system.
In May 2007, Schwarzenegger signed off on a $7.7 billion program to construct facilities [JURIST report] to provide 53,000 new prison and jail beds over the next five years. In July 2007, two federal district judges separately ordered the formation of a special three-judge panel [JURIST report] to supervise and reduce California's prison population after finding that overcrowding is preventing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation [official website] from adequately providing mental health care.