Brown: California can manage its prisons

Jan. 9, 2013 at 3:15 PM
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SACRAMENTO, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- Gov. Jerry Brown says California prisons no longer need federal oversight and caps on inmate numbers.

At news conferences Tuesday in Sacramento and Los Angeles, Brown said the state made much needed reforms under pressure from the federal government, the Los Angeles Times reported. But he said judicial control led to lawyers searching the prisons for problems to litigate.

"At some point, the job's done," Brown said. "It is now time to return control of our prison system to California."

The state released a plan "under protest" late Monday to comply with orders for more cuts in prison populations. That was accompanied by motions to end population caps and judicial oversight of prison mental health care.

Brown said California has spent "billions of dollars" under court order.

"We can't pour more and more dollars down the rat hole of incarceration," he added.

The state has cut inmate numbers from 161,000 in 2007 to 119,000 now. But that still leaves prisons with about 50 percent more than they were designed for, and the state has been ordered to get the population to 137.5 percent of capacity by June.

Before judicial oversight began in response to federal class-action lawsuits on behalf of inmates, about one inmate a week in the system died from medical neglect or abuse. Judges have said additional cuts in numbers are the only way to get adequate healthcare.

Brown said the state will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court if the motions on population caps and mental health care are rejected.

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