Tag: California prisons
In a strongly worded 71 page opinion, a three judge panel from the Eastern District of California has threatened California Governor Jerry Brown with contempt for failing to come up with a plan to reduce California's prison population. The court has given Brown and the state numerous chances. The Supreme Court denied Brown's appeal and he still refuses to comply.
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The Supreme Court yesterday upheld a ruling by a panel of three federal judge holding that conditions in California's prisons are so horrendous they violate the 8th Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The panel had found that overcrowding was a primary cause of the abysmal conditions, and ordered California to reduce its prison population to no more than 137% of design capacity. The Supreme Court's opinion is here. From the opinion:
Prisoners retain the essence of human dignity inherent in all persons. Respect for that dignity animates the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
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The U.S. Supreme Court today heard oral arguments in Schwarzenegger v. Plata, the lawsuit over whether California must release prisoners pursuant to a court order as a step towards rectifying abysmal prison conditions in the state.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer said the conditions documented in court papers were horrendous. He referred, for instance, to a passage in one brief describing prisoners “found hanged to death in holding tanks where observation windows are obscured with smeared feces, and discovered catatonic in pools of their own urine after spending nights locked in small cages.”
Justice Sotomayor to the lawyer for California:
When are you going to avoid the needless deaths?” she asked. “When are you going to avoid or get around people sitting in their feces for days in a dazed state?”
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A few weeks ago, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger surprisingly announced a shift from spending on prisons to spending on education. Part of his plan was for increased use of privatized prisons (think Corrections Corp. of America.) He received a lot of praise for his new plan.
There's a terrific op-ed in the Sacramento Bee by Michelle Alexander, former director the Racial Justice Project for the ACLU of Northern California, on Schwarzenegger's failure to recognize the real problem that the state's decades of mass incarceration, particularly of minorities, have caused. [More..]
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Bump and Update: The proposal passed the California Senate today. It provides for the release of 37,000 inmates over two years and "includes measures such as house arrest and easing penalties for some crimes.."
Original post: 8/19/09
CA Legislature Vote on Prison Reducing Measures
A vote could take place tomorrow in the California legislature on several measures that would reduce the prison state's vastly over-crowded prison population. The proposed reforms: [More...]
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A three judge panel in California has issued a "scathing" 184 page opinion ordering California to reduce its prison population by 40,000 within two years.
The judges said that reducing prison crowding in California was the only way to change what they called an unconstitutional prison health care system that causes one unnecessary death a week. In a scathing 184-page order, the judges criticized state officials, saying they had failed to comply with previous orders to fix the health care system in the prisons and reduce crowding, and recommended remedies, including reform of the parole system.
How bad are prison conditions? [More...]
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This sounds like a prelude to a scene out of "I am Legend" where Will Smith is the last man alive after a virus breaks out. Only it's real, and it's happening in California prisons.
In the past three years, more than 900 inmates at the prison have contracted [Valley] fever, a fungal infection that has been both widespread and lethal. At least a dozen inmates here in Central California have died from the disease, which is on the rise in other Western states, including Arizona, where the health department declared an epidemic after more than 5,500 cases were reported in 2006, including 33 deaths.
It's not just inmates who are contracting Valley Fever which appears to be spread through soil in areas of the Southwest.
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