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California court upholds inmate transfer program

[JURIST] The Third Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal [official website] Wednesday ruled [opinion, PDF] that a plan to ease prison overcrowding by transferring prisoners to out-of-state facilities does not violate the state constitution [text]. The California Correctional Peace Officers Association and Service Employees International Union [trade union websites] had challenged the plan, alleging that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger [official website; JURIST news archive] had exceeded his power under the California Emergency Services Act [PDF text] in authorizing private companies to perform services normally undertaken by state employees. The court rejected that argument, finding that section 8658 of the Act granted the governor authority to address prison conditions in times of emergency. The court remanded the case back to Sacramento Superior Court with instructions to "enter a new judgment denying plaintiffs the relief they seek." The Sacramento Bee has more.

In 2006, a federal judge ordered California [JURIST report] to solve its prison overcrowding problem and vowed to release prisoners early if an adequate solution was not reached. In response, Schwarzenegger issued an emergency declaration [JURIST report] to allow out-of-state transfers. The California Department of Corrections [official website] began out-of-state transfers [JURIST report] in November 2006. Schwarzenegger also considered but ultimately rejected [JURIST reports] an early release program.

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