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Dangerously Overcrowded Prisons

Dangerously Overcrowded Prisons

It is public knowledge that the nation’s prisons are not just overcrowded, but dangerously overcrowded. Every year, we hear of new programs that will be implemented to correct this crucial societal problem. In the outside world, there are some who will argue that prison overcrowding is not their problem or society’s worry. Common sense should tell all of us that prisons who are obscenely overpopulated  lead to more inmate violence and certainly affects adversely rehabilitation. If rehabilitation is affected negatively, society will pay the price in the end with a higher rate of recidivism and more crime. California continues to be a bastion of prison overcrowding. The following article in the Los Angeles Times reports that California has claimed that it has solved its prison overcrowding even though conceding that its prisons “on average are at 149.4% of design capacity.” The second article by Press TV discusses Governor Jerry Brown’s refusal to adhere to the federal court’s order regarding the excessive prison population and his plans to add more inmates to over crowded prisons. This article points out the needless deaths of inmates every month from prison overcrowding.

January 16, 2013 |  9:52 am

It’s official. In a federal court filing Tuesday, California told federal judges that its prisons remain crowded beyond benchmarks set by the court nearly two years ago.

The state said its 33 prisons on average are at 149.4% of design capacity. Nearly half of the individual prisons are much higher than that: 172% at North Kern State Prison, 187% at the Central California Women’s Facility, and the men’s section of Valley State Prison in Chowchilla is now at almost 352%.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced Wednesday that the last female inmates at Valley State have been moved out, freeing up 1,536 beds that can now be used for the male prisoners housed there. Starting next week, the state will begin moving female inmates into a converted 403-bed women’s facility adjacent to Folsom State Prison.

The court-ordered target was 147% crowding by Dec. 27, and California is required to bring its prison population down to 137.5% capacity by June 30, a target the state for months now has admitted it can’t meet.

The state’s monthly status report to the court notes what Gov. Jerry Brown made very public last week — that California contends it has improved living conditions within its prisons to the point it no longer needs to meet court-ordered caps on prison crowding.

“Based on the evidence submitted in support of the state’s motions, further population reductions are not needed because the prison system already provides healthcare that far exceeds what is legally required under the Constitution,” lawyers for the state told federal judges Tuesday.

The three judges, each overseeing class actions over inmate medical, dental and mental healthcare, have not yet responded to California’s motions to shed federal oversight of the prisons. The state’s federally appointed healthcare receiver, J. Clark Kelso, is expected later this month to provide his own report on the status of medical care in those prisons.

Press TV – Overcrowded California prisons to take in more inmates

A California state prison (file photo)

A California state prison (file photo)
Thu Jan 17, 2013
Related Interviews:
California’s governor has announced plans to raise the cap on the state’s penitentiary population, adding more inmates to already overcrowded prisons.

Governor Jerry Brown has recently stated that he is set to raise prison capacities, defying court orders to decrease the number of prisoners.

In a federal court filing on January 15, Californian officials told federal judges that the state would not be able to meet the maximum limit of inmates set by a federal court and also approved by the Supreme Court in 2011, which had stated that prisons should not be housing more than 137.5 percent of their capacity by June 30, 2013.

The 2011 ruling came after reports on the dire conditions of inmates. The federal court decision documented cases where sick inmates were held in cages while waiting for medical treatment.

In the Supreme Court ruling, it was stated that overcrowded prisons result in at least “one needless death per week,” which, according to critics, is a conservative estimation.

Currently, the 33 prisons holding about 120,000 inmates in California are on average at 149.4 percent of their capacity. Almost half of the individual prisons hold much higher numbers, such as the Central California Women’s Facility at 187 percent and Valley State Prison at nearly 352 percent.

In the US, excessive incarceration is a problem. The country holds the world’s largest number of inmates and the highest per capita rate of incarceration at 730 inmates per 100,000 people in 2012.

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