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California Prison Overcrowding Case Heads To Supreme Court

Publication Date: 
November 29, 2010
Los Angeles Times
David G. Savage and Carol J. Williams

The suicide rate in California's overcrowded prisons is nearly twice the national average, and one inmate dies every eight days from inadequate medical care.

These are just two indicators cited in the 15-year legal battle over whether the state's prisons are failing to provide humane medical care for the 165,000 inmates.

On Tuesday, the problems of California's prisons will move to a national stage when the Supreme Court hears the state's challenge to an extraordinary court order that would require the prison population to be reduced by about 25% in two years. That could mean releasing or transferring more than 40,000 inmates, state lawyers say.


But Robert Weisberg, a professor of criminal justice at Stanford University, said the court should focus on the long record in the case.

"I hope this will be looked at as a lawsuit on appeal and not a political Armageddon," he said.