California Prisons Overcrowded

June 2, 2008 9:26:42 PM PDT
An important report was filed on Monday, in a lawsuit over the state's vastly over-crowded prisons. Questions were raised about what level to cap the prison population and what to do with all the extra inmates.

The clock is ticking, as settlement talks over California's overcrowded prison system are down to the last month.

Court-appointed referee, Elwood Lui, released a proposal to trim the state's inmate population by nearly 40,000 over the next four years, ultimately capping the number at 132,500.

"It makes it safer for everyone who's inside the prison system, both for inmates, staff members and correctional custody staff. Prison simply cannot function in a safe manner right now with all of the overcrowding," said Matt Gray with Taxpayers for Improving Public Safety.

However, tough-on-crime Republicans are worried about safety for everyone else outside prison. Lui wants to send the 40,000 lower risk state inmates to county jails, which are already jam-packed and releasing their inmates early, just as LA County and other locals have done. Critics say this proposed settlement sets the stage for even more early releases.

"Folks in the neighborhoods are going to know you don't spend time in county jail and so what that does is it just gives individuals licenses to create crime and havoc in our communities," said State Senator George Runner (R) from Lancaster.

With Republicans in no way ready to agree to a prison cap, the lawsuits brought on by inmates over the crowding issue, will likely go to trial on November 17th at great taxpayer expense.

While in Oakland on Monday, Governor Schwarzenegger said he'd rather see both sides work it out.

"The Federal Court is right to complain about that and to go to trial if we don't settle it. So I hope that both of the parties come together and settle it," said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) California.


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