A panel of three Federal judges ruled that the California prison system is so overcrowded it must cut the prison population by 12% percent, which translates to roughly 9,500 inmates, by December.
Currently, the state’s 33 prisons are holding 149.5% of the inmates they were designed to hold. In a 71-page ruling, the panel says that percentage must be brought down to 137.5% by the end of the year. If that doesn’t happen, Governor Jerry Brown and other corrections officials will be held in contempt of court.
The decision was nothing new for Gov. Brown and his cohorts, as the initial legal wrangling started all the way back in May of 2011. At that time, the Supreme Court said California had two years to fix the overcrowding issue and ordered them to get down to the 137.5% figure.
Instead of complying, Gov. Brown and corrections Secretary Jeffrey Beard filed a motion to ask to soften the number and also threatened to take their appeal to the US Supreme Court.
“The prison emergency is over in California," Brown said at a press conference that month. "California is a powerful state. We can run our own prisons. And by God, let those judges give us our prisons back. We'll run them right,” he said.
Brown accomplished nothing, and his accompanying statement effectively angered the panel.
"At no point over the past several months have defendants indicated any willingness to comply, or made any attempt to comply, with the orders of this court," they said. "In fact, they have blatantly defied them."