Federal judges Thelton Henderson and Lawrence Karlton took a major step yesterday toward putting California's out of control prison growth under a judicially enforced cap. In separate orders that will be reviewed by the 9th Circuit before taking effect, the two judges ordered the creation of a 3 judge special panel (of federal judges) who will be charged with reversing overcrowding either by directly reviewing prisoners for release or creating a court trustee to under take the review. See Solomon Moore's reporting in the NYT's.
As readers of Governing through Crime know, courts have been the one institution of modern government that has shown any resistance to governing through crime and the logic of mass incarceration. However, the usual effect has been to give the executive and the legislature more opportunity to attack the courts as friends of criminals and enemies of the public. Expect some strong rhetoric along these lines from Governor Schwarzenegger later today or tomorrow.