Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Federal Court Orders California to Reduce its Prison Population
In a historic ruling certain to move quickly to the Supreme Court, the 3 Judge court of the Northern and Eastern districts of California, operating under the Prison Litigation Reform Act in the consolidated cases of Coleman v. Schwarzenegger (NO. CIV S-90-0520 LKK JFM P) and Plata v. Schwarzenegger (NO. C01-1351 TEH ), has found that only substantial reductions in the present prison population can allow remedies in the underlying cases (involving health care and mental health) to move forward. Stating that a reduction to 130 percent of design capacity (currently at about 200 percent) was reasonable, the court nonetheless settled on 137 percent as in keeping with the PLRA's demands for least intrusive remedies. That means a reduction of approximately 45,000 inmates. I will post a lengthier analysis when I can get through 184 page opinion.