Justices, 5-4, Tell California to Cut Prisoner Population
The New York Times reported today on the U.S. Supreme Court‘s decision to order the State of California to cut its prisoner population. Apparently the conditions in the overcrowded prisons are so bad they violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The Court ordered the state to reduce its prison population by more than 30,000 inmates.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in a 5-to-4 decision that broke along ideological lines, described a prison system that failed to deliver minimal care to prisoners with serious medical and mental health problems and produced “needless suffering and death.” Shocker: The court’s more liberal members — Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — joined Justice Kennedy’s opinion.
Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel A. Alito Jr. filed vigorous dissents. Justice Scalia called the order affirmed by the majority “perhaps the most radical injunction issued by a court in our nation’s history.” Justice Alito said “the majority is gambling with the safety of the people of California.”
The picture above was part of the majority opinion that showed “cruel and unusual punishment”. The order requires state officials to reduce the prison population to 110,000, which is 137.5 percent of the system’s capacity. There have been more than 160,000 inmates in the system in recent years, and there are now more than 140,000.
The ruling did not dictate how California should comply with the order — whether it should release inmates, transfer them out-of-state to for-profit prisons, change its parole rules, or take other actions.
Given the fact that the State of California is broke, you may be seeing a lot of these inmates released. I’d rather these inmates remained locked up in their “horrific” conditions than be released to do more harm to citizens. Just another reason for me not to go to California (Sorry Eowyn!).