Governor Brown says prison crisis is over
Is now a model for the nation
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Gov. Jerry Brown said today he has moved to end a federal court order capping the state’s prison population and another that requires intensive oversight of prison mental-health care.
“After decades of judicial intervention in our correctional system and the expenditure of billions of taxpayer dollars, the time has come to restore California’s rightful control of its prison system,” according to Brown, who held news conferences in Los Angeles and Sacramento to announce the effort.
The governor said the state has complied with a federal judge’s order to find ways to achieve further reductions in the number of inmates in the state’s 33 prisons.
California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation Secretary Jeff Beard said the state’s prison health-care system “is now a model for the nation.”
“Independent expert reviews have found that California’s prison medical and mental health care systems meet constitutional standards,” he said. “It would be both unnecessary and unsafe for the courts to order further inmate reductions.”
Brown also announced that he has signed a proclamation ending the prison overcrowding emergency that has been in place since 2006. The move will allows the state to begin in July to phase out the use of private out-of-state prison beds for almost 9,000 inmates.
A 1991 federal class-action lawsuit filed by state prison inmates alleged that California’s prison mental health care system was unconstitutional. Prior administrations then entered into various consent decrees that set in motion judicial oversight of the prison system.
In the intervening years, California rebuilt its prison mental health care system, investing billions in additional treatment capacity and hiring hundreds of mental health care professionals, Brown said.
Brown said his office has filed federal court documents to end judicial oversight because the mental health care provided to prisoners now exceeds constitutional requirements.
In 2007, the mental-health lawsuit, along with another complaint involving medical care, was assigned to a three-judge court that determined that overcrowding was the primary cause of problems in California’s prisons.
Two years later, the court ordered the state to reduce crowding to 137.5 percent of “design capacity.” The U.S Supreme Court affirmed that order last year.
Since 2006, the inmate population in the state’s prisons has been reduced by more than 43,000 and crowding is down from more than 200 percent to just below 150 percent, Brown said.
More than half of the population decline has taken place since October 1, 2011, as a result of Public Safety Realignment, the governor said.
A state budget watchdog group, however, said the latest filings are an attempt by Brown to dodge the requirements of the court orders.
“If people’s lives weren’t at stake, claiming that caging one and a half times the people our prisons were built to hold isn’t overcrowding would be laughable,” according to Diana Zuniga of Californians United for a Responsible Budget. “There are clear, safe ways to bring people back to our communities that would increase public safety and free more funding for social services and the education system the governor claims to value so much.”
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The coroner's office today said an inmate who died at the California State Prison in Lancaster was a homicide victim, according to the Los Angeles County coroner's office.
Ed Winter of the coroner's office said the autopsy confirmed that 63- year-old Steven Bogue was the victim of a homicide. He did not provide further details.
According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 40-year-old Damian Reguera was a suspect in the death of his former cellmate.
Back in January 2010, a three-judge panel composed of a federal appeals judge for the 9th Circuit and two federal district judges, ordered the state to reduce its prison population in six-month benchmarks from 179 percent of design capacity to 137.5 percent within two years. The state filed an appeal of the decision to the United States Supreme Court and lost.
In May, the U.S. the Supreme Court upheld the three-judge panel’s finding that California prison overcrowding is unconstitutional and leads to severe violations of inmates’ basic rights.
In 1994, Dorothy Erskine’s nephew, Brian Smith, was arrested for shoplifting at Cerritos Mall soon after the public voted to pass the controversial Three Strikes law. Smith, 30 at the time, was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
After spending 16 years advocating against California’s Three Strikes law, South Los Angeles resident Erskine believes this time next month she will have something to celebrate. If voters pass Proposition 36 in November, as she believes they will, her nephew could be released.
An inmate at the California State Prison in Lancaster was named as a suspect in the death of his cellmate, which was being investigated as a homicide.
According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 40-year-old Damian Reguera was named as a suspect in the death of 63-year-old Steven Bogue.
He was pronounced dead about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at the prison, at 44750 60th Street West, after being found unresponsive in his cell, according to the CDCR.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—The shift of thousands of state prisoners to Los Angeles County custody will increase crime and reduce overall public safety unless the state gives Los Angeles and other cities money to respond, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and law-enforcement officials said today.
Starting this morning, people convicted of non-violent, non-serious, non-sex offender crimes will be sent to county jails instead of state prisons.