Impact of Calif. prison ruling
Poor care cited in ruling to release Calif. inmates
Severe prison overcrowding is a violation of inmates’ constitutional rights, a 5-4 majority of the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled.
California has one of the largest and most troubled prison systems in the nation, and now must cut its inmate population by about 32,000 prisoners within the next two years, the court ruled last week in an opinion citing inadequate medical and mental health care for the incarcerated.
The ruling sends a message to states that they must deal with overtaxed prisons because severe overcrowding can lead to deficiencies in healthcare, said Rebekah Evenson, attorney with the not-for-profit Prison Law Office at San Quentin, Calif., which argued the case before the court. However, Evenson said California is an outlier.
“The reality on the ground is that the California prison system is vastly more overcrowded than any other state except perhaps Alabama,” Evenson said, adding that Alabama is a much smaller state. “We’re out of the ballpark.”
The high court’s decision backed what lower courts have been saying for decades: California prisoners are receiving woefully inadequate healthcare, and curtailing overcrowding is necessary to improve the
A Supreme Court ruling last week cited inadequate medical and mental health care for prison inmates.