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Federal judges approve California plan to reduce prison overcrowding

[JURIST] A panel of three federal judges on Tuesday approved [order, PDF] a revised plan [text, PDF] filed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) [official website] for reducing prison overcrowding [JURIST news archive] in the state. The new plan includes revisions made possible because of legislative enactments, including summary parole for lower-level offenses to reduce the amount of inmates re-entering the prison system for parole violations and credit earning enhancements to reduce time served. Action on the order will be delayed because the Schwarzennger administration [official website] has appealed the prison population reduction order to the US Supreme Court, which is expected to decide whether to take the case later this month [San Francisco Chronicle report].

The CDCR filed the plan in November after the panel rejected the first plan because it did not comply with a federal court order to reduce the prison population [JURIST reports]. The original plan did not include the legislative enactments but provided various ways of reducing overcrowding, including transferring more prisoners to out-of-state prisons, GPS monitoring of inmates who violate parole, commuting sentences of inmates who are eligible for deportation, and building new facilities or converting unused space. In September, the US Supreme Court [official website] refused to grant a request [JURIST report] by the state of California to temporarily stay the court order to reduce the prison population, pending appeal.

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