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Two Years To Reduce Prison Population

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Sacramento, CA — Federal judges are reluctantly giving California two more years to meet a court-ordered inmate population cap.

The Three-Judge Court said “We are reluctant to extend the deadline for two more years,” and noted the state agreed to develop long term comprehensive and sustainable prison population-reduction reforms. The reforms include “considering the establishment of a commission to recommend reforms of state penal and sentencing laws.”

The new court order appoints a compliance officer who will release inmates early if the state fails to meet interim benchmarks or the final goal. California remains more than 5,000 inmates over the limit set by the courts, despite building more prison space.

The extension is until February 28, 2016 with 30 and 60 day grace periods. The initial order to reduce California’s prison population to 137.5% of design capacity was made on June 30, 2011.

The new court order benchmarks and dates are:

  • 143% of design bed capacity by June 30, 2014
  • 141.5% of design bed capacity by February 28, 2015
  • 137.5% of design bed capacity by February 28, 2016

Governor Jerry Brown issued a statement saying, “The state now has the time and resources necessary to help inmates become productive members of society and make our communities safer.”

The court opinion states, “California prisoners deserve far better treatment than they have received.” It says, “California’s citizens have incurred far greater costs, both financial and otherwise” from not complying with the Court’s orders four years ago.

The court noted the newly created “Recidivism Reduction Fund”, created by SB 105, will allocate hundreds of millions of dollars for activities designed to reduce the state’s prison population and recidivism. More information on SB 105 is detailed in the “Brown and Legislative Leaders New Prison Plan” news story here.

It was also ordered that during the next two years the current out-of-state population, of about 8,900 inmates, is not allowed to increase.