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California May Have Tough Battle Ahead If It Appeals Order To Reduce Prison Population

Publication Date: 
August 06, 2009
San Jose Mercury News
Howard Mintz

Kara Dansky, lecturer in law and executive director of the Criminal Justice Center, talked to Howard Mintz about the federal order requiring California to reduce its prison population:

A federal court's sweeping order this week forcing California to cut its prison population by 40,000 inmates may have been as predictable as it was dramatic, a judicial thunderbolt state officials should have seen coming for nearly two decades.

While putting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration on the clock to come up with a plan to cure prison overcrowding within 45 days, the decision by a unique three-judge panel was the product of 27 years of legal fights over California's ever-swelling prison system. It also follows more than a dozen previous orders warning the state that prison conditions had reached a bleak level of unconstitutional conditions.


"These judges have been extremely careful to give the state more than enough opportunity to demonstrate it had the ability on its own to bring its medical and mental health system into compliance with the constitution," said Kara Dansky, executive director of Stanford law school's criminal justice center.