Gov. Attempts to Justify Unconstitutional Prison Overcrowding

For Immediate Release – January 8th

Governor Asks Court to End Prison Population Reduction Requirement

Makes Another Attempt to Justify Unconstitutional Prison Overcrowding

Contact:  Emily Harris

Californians United for a Responsible Budget

510-435-1176

Sacramento CA—Yesterday the State of California filed another response to the Federal Court order to reduce dangerous overcrowding in California’s prison, urging the court to end the 137.5% population cap. In the Motion to Vacate or Modify Population Reduction Order, the state claimed that “overcrowding and health care conditions cited by this Court to support its population reduction order are now a distant memory.” California’s prisons currently hold 133,000 in space that was intended for 80,000.

This is one in a series of attempts by the Brown Administration to evade the Court’s order to reduce the prison population. In September, the Court rejected Brown’s attempt to raise the population cap to 145%.

“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.  But this isn’t laughable, it’s morally outrageous,” says Diana Zuñiga, Field Organizer for 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. It’s time for this administration to stop dragging it’s feet and make the kind of change Californians have been demanding for years.”

Advocates have proposed a series of parole and sentencing reform measures to reduce incarceration rates and corrections costs while improving public safety, many of which have been proven to work in other states.  Examples include releasing prop 36 eligible strikers, releasing terminally ill and permanently medically incapacitated prisoners, implementing an older prisoner release program, expanding good time credits, and reforming drug sentencing laws.

According to weekly population reports from CDCR, California State prisons continue to remain crowded well-past intended design capacity.  Based on the CDCR January report the recently-converted Valley State Prison for Men is at 292% capacity, and as a result of the conversion, the Central Valley Women’s Facility at 184%. The total CDCR system is at 146.1%.

“Instead of releasing people and closing VSPW, they are squeezing over 1,000 women and transgender people into the two remaining women’s prisons. The conversion has only aggravated overcrowding, created dangerous conditions, and caused health care to deteriorate. What’s more, they have added yet another men’s prison to their inhumane system,” says Hafsah Al-Amin from California Coalition for Women Prisoners.

Hundreds of former prisoners, family members, and advocates will rally at Valley State Prison on Saturday, January 26th.

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