In a victory for civil rights advocates across the country, the US Supreme Court refused to hear the State of California’s appeal hoping to reverse an earlier ruling that required the State to make meaningful reform to address the State’s overcrowded prisons.
Several years ago, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of a group of inmates claiming that the overcrowding in California prisons was so bad that the conditions were unsafe. Most notably, they argued that proper medical attention could not be given to all inmates. The State has done all that it can to avoid complying with that ruling. This recent denial is the final nail in the coffin, so to speak, of the State’s options to avoid compliance.
While the exact requirements are quite confusing and beyond the scope of this blog post, the bottom line is that California prisons will have to cut about 10,000 inmates from the prison system. Now. This does not necessarily mean letting people go with no strings attached. The State has until January to come up with a plan to decrease the prison population.
What Can California Do To Decrease Prison Overcrowding?
The State is considering a number of options to decrease the overcrowding in it’s prisons. The first is to rely more heavily on drug treatment and mental health services rather than incarceration.This should divert many incoming inmates to these other services rather than landing them in prison. Rehabilitation has been seen as more effective as incarceration in relation to recidivism.
Second, the State is considering spending $300 million dollars to ship inmates to private prisons or prisons located in other states, such as Mississippi, Arizona, and Oklahoma. Of course, while this would decrease prison population, it would also cost the State of California a hefty sum and would rely on other states to do our work.
Another possible avenue for inmate reduction is to focus on low-threat offenders, such as juveniles and the elderly, who may have long prison sentences. They would go through a review session first and must qualify under specific criteria. For the elderly, however, it has been seen that they are less likely to return to prison after the age of forty. Both juvenile and elder groups, it is argued, are less of a threat to the community or may be better held in an alternative location, like a juvenile facility or a half-way house. Other groups they are looking into as well are the seriously ill, immigration violators, and other nonviolent perpetrators.
Sentencing reforms have also been taken into effect, such as the reform of the Three Strikes Law. In the past, no matter how minor or nonviolent an individual’s crime was for his or her third felony, it immediately led to a life sentencing. However, with the reform, the third felony must be considered as “serious” or violent, like murder.
Have You Been Charged with a Criminal Offense in California?
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in the state of California, you are in a very serious situation. The truth is that, given the current state of the prison system, prosecutors are rethinking the paradigm when it comes to seeking convictions and offering plea bargains. With the help of an experienced California criminal defense attorney, you may be able to secure a favorable outcome.
Click here, or call 949-679-7745 today.