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California governor appeals order to curb prison overcrowding

California Governor Jerry Brown [official website] and various state prison officials on Monday filed a notice of appeal [text, PDF] to the US Supreme Court [official website] from an April order requiring the governor to reduce California's prison population. In their April order, a panel of federal judges refused to vacate or modify their 2010 order [text, PDF] for reduction of the California inmate population. This order mandated the state to reduce its prison population to within 137.5 percent of institutional design capacity. California Attorney General Kamala Harris [official website] and the additional parties to the appeal state that the April injunction will require the state to reduce its prison population by approximately 9,000 inmates in less than eight months. Further, the appeal states that prison health care in California now "exceeds constitutional standards."

California has been under scrutiny for its prison overcrowding [JURIST news archive] since 2006, when the state's governor proclaimed a prison overcrowding state of emergency [text]. In May 2011, the Supreme Court decided Brown v. Plata [opinion, PDF], which upheld [JURIST report] the federal three-judge panel's order that California reduce its state prison population. The court concluded that the extreme overcrowding of the California prison system violated the Eighth Amendment [text] because it prevented the system from providing adequate medical and mental health care to inmates. In January Brown issued a proclamation [text, PDF], which will effectively terminate the 2006 state of emergency. In this proclamation, the governor indicated that the circumstances giving rise to the prison overcrowding state of emergency no longer exist within California prisons.

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