Friday, June 21, 2013

Three Federal Judges to Jerry: Comply Immediately

Yesterday, a three-judge panel tired of the state's evasion maneuvers ordered the Governor to comply with the original Plata mandate. The Sac Bee reports:

In a sharp rebuke of Gov. Jerry Brown, the judges said the state must take immediate steps to release inmates toward compliance with the panel's 2009 order that the prison population be reduced to 137.5 percent of capacity, an order the U.S. Supreme Court later adopted.

"The history of this litigation is of defendants' repeated failure to take the necessary steps to remedy the constitutional violations in its prison system," the panel wrote in a scathing 51-page order and opinion that demands the state immediately slash inmate levels or face a contempt citation.

"We are compelled to enforce the Federal Constitution and to enforce the constitutional rights of all persons, including prisoners," the panel wrote in an order that left no doubt the judges believe the state has intentionally defied its previous orders.

The latest one essentially requires the state to cut its inmate population by nearly 10,000 inmates by the end of the year, and to take steps to ensure that the count will not jump back above the 137.5 percent level.

On other occasions, we've discussed the court's patience with the state and explained why it might seem a preferable course of action to get as much as possible accomplished consensually. But it seems that the court's patience has worn thin.

Interestingly, the original Plata decisions did not explicitly require a release, and neither does this one. Realignment-related measures could be taken to increase capacity. 

Props to Simon Grivet for the link.

No comments: