The United States Supreme Court in a 5-4 opinion issued an order endorsing a federal court decision that would force California to reduce its prison population. The Order requires California to reduce its inmate population to approximately 137 percent of prison capacity. The Supreme Court also endorsed the federal court decision that provides California with two years to reduce its prison population to about 109,000 inmates.
According to Justice Anthony Kennedy, the case arises from serious constitutional violations in California’s prison system. Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote a dissenting opinion, called the order “perhaps the most radical injunction issued by a court in our nation’s history.”
While the Order will require California to reduce its prison population over the next two years, it does not necessarily mean that thousands of inmates will be released from prison. California is already working on a plan that would transfer many low-level offenders to county jails. However, the California Sheriff’s Association is not sure that the plan will work unless the program is adequately funded.
One California Sheriff, Greg Munks, of the San Mateo County Sheriff Department believes that California’s plan to transfer inmates to county jails will be problematic because many local facilities are already overcrowded.
In Fresno County, inmates are routinely released due to overcrowding. Many of these inmates serve little, if any, of their actual sentence. Others are released pending a resolution of their criminal case without posting bond.
With the two year deadline now upheld, it will be up to the state of California to make the necessary changes to comply with the Order.
If a loved one may be impacted by the Order, and you are interested in determining how the Order may affect their rights, you should contact an experienced Fresno Criminal Defense Attorney.