U.S. Supreme Court won't block California prisoner release

11:58 AM, Aug 2, 2013   |    comments
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The nation's highest court has refused to delay the release of almost 10,000 California prisoners by year's end.

In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Gov. Jerry Brown's request for an emergency delay of the ruling by federal judges on June 20 to further reduce the state's prison population by Dec. 31.

Chief Justice John Roberts sided with federal judges and against the governor, as did Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotamayor, and Stephen Breyer.

Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas voted to allow the state a temporary delay.

The decision is the latest in a series of victories for the prisoners who brought the original cases dating back years, cases that alleged cruel and unusual punishment due to overcrowding in the California prison system.  The prison population remains above its design capacity, but at a level that state officials now insist can assure adequate medical care for inmates.

State officials prepared a plan earlier in 2013 for which prisoners to release should the courts demand it -- a plan that includes evaluating those convicted of lower level offenses, continued shipments of prisoners to out-of-state facilities, and more lower level inmates housed at fire camp facilities.

But it's unclear whether those are the plans that will be used. State officials did not immediately respond to requests for a response to the ruling.

More details to come, and a full report tonight on News10 at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.


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