Recently, a panel of three judges with jurisdiction over the California state prison population announced that the state must take immediate steps to release approximately 10,000 prison inmates.
The three-judge panel ordered the state to release inmates in order to comply with the panel’s 2009 order that the prison population be reduced to 137.5% of its original capacity. In 2009, the panel ruled that the health care system in California prisons had deteriorated due to the issue of overcrowding and violated prisoners’ right to equal protection.
Currently, there are approximately 119,000 prisoners at 149.8% capacity. Releasing nearly 10,000 inmates would bring the prison capacity down to 137.5% in accordance with the panel’s 2009 order.
The panel’s recent decision has not been met with unanimous support.
Many fear that the release of 10,000 prisoners may compromise public safety. However, Michael Bien, lead counsel for the inmates, stated that “this administration knows how to identify prisoners that can be safely released.”
“The state saves money, prisons identify people who are ready to re-enter society, and the inmates have the opportunity to become good, productive citizens,” added Bien.
The panel of judges reiterated that no further delays will be permitted and ordered the waiver of any state law or administrative procedure that would postpone release of the prisoners. The panel also ordered the state to produce a bi-monthly report on its progress in releasing the inmates.
The state had previously indicated that it would take various steps to cut the prison population, but the panel claimed that it had not seen sufficient evidence to believe that the state was making a good-faith effort to do so. In fact, counsel for the inmates argued that the state’s non-cooperation with the panel’s 2009 order was blatant contempt of court. The panel found this accusation to have “considerable merit.”
What Does Wallin & Klarich Think?
At Wallin & Klarich, we believe that this decision is long overdue. Individuals sentenced to prison terms must be able to serve their time in normal humane conditions with proper housing, food and medical supplies. Releasing lower-level offenders into a community-based program offering vocational training and supervision will not only provide the offender with a better chance to thrive upon release, but will also save taxpayers millions of dollars.
The skilled criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience successfully keeping persons accused of crimes out of overcrowded prisons. Our law firm approaches every case with the belief that the person we are defending could be one of our own family members. We have seen firsthand how stressful legal matters can be for our clients and their loved ones. We are committed to being available to our clients at all times – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.
Our offices are located in Orange County, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, West Covina, Victorville, Torrance, Sherman Oaks and Ventura. Call us today at (888) 280-6839. We will be there when you call.