Supreme Court refuses California request to delay release of inmates
SAN FRANCISCO — The Supreme Court on Friday paved the way for the early release of nearly 10,000 California inmates by year's end despite warnings by Gov. Jerry Brown and other state officials that a public safety crisis looms if they're forced to open the prison gates.
The majority of justices refused Brown's emergency request to halt a lower court's directive for the early release of the prisoners to ease severe overcrowding in California's 33 adult prisons.
A panel of three federal judges previously ordered the state to cut its prison population by nearly 8 percent to roughly 110,000 inmates by Dec. 31 to avoid conditions amounting to cruel and unusual punishment.
The panel, responding to decades of lawsuits filed by inmates, repeatedly ordered early releases after finding inmates were needlessly dying and suffering because of inadequate medical and mental health care caused by overcrowding.
Court-appointed experts reported that the prison system had a suicide rate that worsened last year to 24 per 100,000 inmates, far exceeding the national average of 16 suicides per 100,000 inmates in state prisons.
Brown appealed the latest decision of the panel and asked the U.S. Supreme Court to cancel the early release order while considering his arguments that the state is making significant progress in improving conditions.
The governor also said he cannot further reduce the population without releasing dangerous felons.
“This ruling refusing to block the order doesn't bode well for their overall appeal,” said inmate lawyer Don Specter, head of the Berkeley-based Prison Law Office.
Lawyers representing Brown argued in his July 22 appeal that releasing 10,000 more inmates will involve violent criminals and overwhelm the abilities of law enforcement and social services to monitor them.
“No data suggests that a sudden release of inmates with these characteristics can be done safely,” the state said in its filing. “No state has ever done it.”
The panel of judges and attorneys representing inmates have consistently rejected that argument.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ebola watch lists to shrink
- West Virginia University warns students over riots
- Scientists unravel genetics of height
- Indiana police detain man in deaths of 4 women
- Reported ‘Easy Rider’ chopper fetches $1.35M
- Alleged trooper killer may have been seen Friday
- Premier Cubism collection shared in N.Y.
- Researchers try to soothe nerves jittery over Ebola virus
- Ebola fears stir in Western Pa. with infected nurse’s visit to Akron, Ohio
- FAA dallies as demand for commercial drones mounts
- Riots shake Keene State College in New Hampshire