On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear California Governor Jerry Brown’s appeal against a lower court ruling that requires California to reduce prison overcrowding to 137.5 percent of design capacity. California has already stated that in order to comply with the court order, it might have to release up to 9000 prisoners back to mainstream society by the end of this year.
In September Brown had reached a deal with lawmakers and agreed to spend $400 million on rehabilitation efforts, including the improvement and access of mental health services for inmates. On September 24, Brown negotiated a deal to have until January 27 in hand to comply with the court order or bring the situation under control by discussing options with the attorneys for the inmate.
Meanwhile, his appeal to the Supreme Court has met with rejection.
The US Supreme Court had already endorsed findings of a lower federal court that required reduction of overcrowding in California prisons, but the state contested the findings.
The Supreme Court dismissed Governor Brown’s emergency appeal for want of jurisdiction without any explanation as to why jurisdiction was lacking in the instant appeal, except a reference to the fact that 28 U.S.C §1253 applied.
The issues of prison overcrowding and unhygienic conditions at California prisons has been running for years with the state delaying compliance of court orders by keeping on contesting facts or appealing against orders, while inmates have been going on hunger strikes against their conditions.
Apparently, with the recent rejection of Brown’s appeal to the Supreme Court the state may have exhausted its options and delay tactics and would be compelled to comply with court orders. However, Brown remains staunch on one point – he would rather release convicts and prisoners into mainstream society, than improve prison conditions according to terms laid down by the courts, and build systems to accommodate prisoners under humane conditions.