Bloomberg News

California Ordered to Begin Releasing Some Inmates Early (1)

June 20, 2013

California Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to reduce the state prison population doesn’t comply with a federal court order and the state must expand a program to release some inmates early, three federal judges ordered.

The state must take additional measures including the expansion of good-time credits to satisfy the requirements of the earlier ruling, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson in San Francisco and two other judges said in today’s order.

“We order defendants to immediately take all steps necessary to implement the measures in” an amended plan “notwithstanding any state or local laws or regulations to the contrary,” the panel ruled.

Failure to take such steps or to report on such steps every two weeks shall constitute an act of contempt, the judges said.

Federal judges stripped California of control of its prison health-care system in 2006 after inmates sued over what they said was inadequate treatment. The judges ordered the state to cut its prison population to 137 percent of capacity from 175 percent, saying overcrowding was a cause of the inadequate care. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld that order in May 2011.

California’s prisons remain at about 150 percent capacity, above the ceiling set by the courts.

The case is Plata v. Brown, 01-cv-01351, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

To contact the reporter on this story: Karen Gullo in San Francisco at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at

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