Tuesday, California officials file a plan with a federal court on how they’ll reduce the state’s prison population by as many as 32-thousand inmates. A panel of federal district judges ordered the state to make the cuts within two years. They say severe crowding in state prisons causes deadly lapses in prisoners’ medical and mental healthcare.
The state packs 140-thousand inmates into facilities designed for 80-thousand. California has to shrink that population to 110-thousand inmates—in stages. It’s supposed to achieve the first reduction six months from now. By then, state prisons are supposed to hold 10-thousand fewer inmates.
A couple of years ago, the court approved a population reduction plan that included transferring more inmates to prisons in other states, placing some low-level offenders under house arrest and changing certain non-violent felonies to misdemeanors. This week, state officials expected to modify their plan so it includes Governor Brown’s recently enacted realignment plan.
The new law shifts thousands of low-level, non-violent felons to county custody starting next month. But it’s a four year plan that will only take effect IF the legislature agrees to pay for it. The state’s likely to seek more time to get it going.