Reducing California's Prison Overcrowding

Posted by Seth Chazin | Jul 08, 2013 | 0 Comments


Prison cell

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that a three judge panel has held that Gov. Jerry Brown and the State of California have failed to reduce the prison population as previously ordered and has directed the state to release thousands of prisoners from the California state prison system. The panel ruled that the overcrowding of California's prisons has led to the denigration of the physical and mental health of thousands of prisoners. This, in turn, has resulted in a violation of the constitutional rights of those prisoners that are subjected to the overcrowding.

The panel, comprised of US District Judges Thelton Henderson and Lawrence Karlton and Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt, preempted California state law while declaring this was the only way to bring California into compliance with the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.  The panel ordered that inmates shall be granted extra credit for time served with good behavior and for participation in prison work and education programs.  The State of California is now required to report to the court every two weeks as to what steps it is taking to comply with this most recent order. State officials will be held in contempt if they fail to comply. Gov. Brown has sought a stay of this order. The order is supposed to reduce the prison population to 137.5% of capacity, or over 109,000 inmates. Governor Brown has argued that the states realignment program has reduced the prison population by about 24,000 inmates. However the three-judge panel ruled that this was not enough to ensure the health and safety of all inmates in California.

The Chronicle article can be found at

About the Author

Seth Chazin

Seth P. Chazin has aggressively defended clients in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases for over 25 years. He has extensive experience representing criminal defendants in federal and state court, while handling both state and federal appeals as well.


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Seth P. Chazin is a San Francisco Bay Area Criminal Defense Lawyer with over 30 years experience.

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