On Monday, February 9, a tentative ruling was issued by a federal three judge panel stating that overcrowding is primary cause of the cruel and unusual conditions in California state prisons, and that they plan to order the state of California to reduce the population by roughly 55,000 people in the next 2 to 3 years. The ruling lists changes to parole practices, increasing ?good time credits? for prisoners, and alternative sentencing as possible ways to reduce the population, all of which have been considered by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and Governor Schwarzenegger in recent years. The Governor declared a state of emergency in 2006 because of the ?severe overcrowding? in California?s prisons, causing ?substantial risk to the health and safety of the men and women who work inside these prisons and the inmates housed in them.?
This ruling is a major victory for prisoners, their loved ones, and advocates. Those who face deadly conditions inside have been fighting for decades for their constitutional and human rights in the face of retaliation from CDCR.
The State plans to immediately appeal the decision to the Supreme Court which will mean that it will be some time before a population cap will be put into effect. It is vital that our communities continue to raise public awareness of conditions inside and organize to hold the system accountable to the suffering and death it has caused.
CCWP will continue to organize with people inside and their loved ones and advocates outside as this situation unfolds; please contact us if you are interested in being involved in these efforts.