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Supreme Court ruling requires California to create prison overcrowding reduction plan

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Friday refused to grant a request by the state of California to temporarily stay a lower court order to come up with a plan to reduce the number of inmates in its prisons [JURIST news archive]. In a brief order [text, PDF], the Court said that it would not stay an earlier order [text PDF; opinion summary, PDF] by a special federal court panel compelling California to create a plan [JURIST report] that will reduce the state's overcrowding from its current level of 190 percent of maximum capacity to a more manageable 137.5 percent. The Supreme Court noted that California was only appealing its need to create a plan to reduce prison overcrowding and that, ultimately, the plan would not be implemented until the Supreme Court had an opportunity to review the special panel's final order.

In its earlier order, the lower court noted that that due to extremely poor medical care, one inmate was "dying needlessly every six or seven days." In August 2008, California's court-appointed prison medical overseer J.Clark Kelso [official profile] asked the court to force the state to add 8 billion dollars [JURIST report] over the next five years to bring prison healthcare to constitutionally acceptable standards. In response to a 2006 order [JURIST report] to reduce overcrowding, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger [official website] ordered [JURIST report] the transfer of some prisoners out-of-state.

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