SACRAMENTO, CA - California's appeal of a federal court order to relieve prison overcrowding is scheduled to be heard by the nation's high court on Tuesday.
California is expected to argue the order to reduce the number of inmates by nearly 40,000 by 2011 imperils public safety and impinges on state's rights.
In August 2009, a federal court panel ruled overcrowding in California prisons has led to inadequate medical care for inmates in violation of their constitutionally-protected right against cruel and unusual punishment.
While appealing the ruling to shed inmates, California has begun reducing the prison population. Some 8,500 have been transferred to private prisons out of state. Some non-violent inmates have been or will be released early, placed on house arrest, or sent to county jails. In addition, a new prison medical facility is being built in Stockton.
California has 33 prisons housing approximately 166,000 inmates.