Calif. Appeals Prison Population Cap to U.S. Supreme Court
On Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) administration filed a notice of appeal in the U.S. Supreme Court over a federal court order for California to reduce its inmate population by 9,000 before the end of 2013, the AP/U-T San Diego reports (Thompson, AP/U-T San Diego, 5/13).
A full appeal must be filed within 60 days (St. John, Los Angeles Times, 5/13).
In 2006, a U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson ruled that federal oversight of the state's prison health care system was needed after determining that an average of one inmate per week died as a result of medical malpractice or neglect.
Shortly after taking office in 2011, Brown implemented a plan to reduce the prison population by shifting many inmates from state prisons to county jails.
In April, a panel of federal judges rejected Brown's request to end a court-mandated prison population cap. The judges ruled that the cap is necessary to address substandard conditions that have resulted in unconstitutionally poor inmate care.
In their ruling, the judges said Brown had provided "no convincing evidence" that prison overcrowding is no longer a problem.
As of April, the prison population was at 150% of capacity, or 9,000 more inmates than the court-ordered cap (California Healthline, 5/6).
On May 2, Brown filed a proposal to comply with the order. However, the governor said that he would appeal the cap to the U.S. Supreme Court and that he plans to delay the implementation of his proposal during the appeals process (California Healthline, 5/3).
Comments on Appeal
Deborah Hoffman -- assistant secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation -- said the state is appealing the court order because the federal judges "did not fully or fairly consider the evidence that with our greatly reduced prison population, prison health care now exceeds constitutional standards" (Small, "KPCC News," KPCC, 5/13).
However, Don Specter -- director of the not-for-profit Prisoner Law Office -- said, "I think the governor's time and the state's resources would be best spent reducing crowding and improving health care rather than filing these meritless appeals" (AP/U-T San Diego, 5/13).
Broadcast CoverageOn Monday, Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" reported on the notice of appeal (Orr, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 5/13). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.