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UPDATE: State files court-ordered plan to reduce prison population



California filed a plan late Thursday detailing how it will reduce its prison population by year's end. A federal court ordered the reduction in order to improve medical and mental health care in the lockups.
California filed a plan late Thursday detailing how it will reduce its prison population by year's end. A federal court ordered the reduction in order to improve medical and mental health care in the lockups.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

California will seek to reduce inmates' sentences while increasing its use of private prisons to meet a court-ordered population cap by the end of the year, under a plan Gov. Jerry Brown filed late Thursday.

The plan calls for increasing early release credits for inmates and freeing elderly and incapacitated prisoners, while slowing the return of thousands of inmates who are being held in private prisons in other states.

The Democratic governor intends to seek a delay of those steps while he appeals the ruling on overcrowding, which already has been upheld once by the U.S. Supreme Court.

He filed the plan after federal judges last month threatened to cite him for contempt it they find he is not following their previous order to cut the number of inmates.

The state already is sentencing thousands of lower-level offenders to county jails instead of prison, and Brown argues that he can't do more without endangering public safety.

 California needs to shed another 9,300 state inmates after the judges ruled that greatly reducing the prison population is the most effective way to improve medical and mental health care for inmates. Current treatment has been ruled unconstitutional.

 Options in the state plan include:

The administration argued against many of the proposals even as it presented the options to the court in a series of legal filings.

Under the court order, the state must reduce the population in its 33 adult prisons to about 110,000 inmates by year's end.

The population already has been reduced by about 25,000 inmates under a two-year-old law that is sending felons convicted of what are deemed to be non-serious, non-violent and non-sexual offenses to county jails instead of state prisons.

Brown argues that most of the less serious offenders already have been filtered out of the state prison system. He also says the state can no longer afford to provide "gold plate" prisons at the expense of schools and other social services.

The federal judges ruled that the state can reduce the prison population by about another 8 percent without increasing crime. Absent a stay of the order, Brown will have to begin moving immediately.

"They could provide increased good-time credits and modestly shorten the terms of people without any effect on public safety at all," said Don Specter, director of the nonprofit Prison Law Office, which filed a lawsuit over prison crowding.

Below is the plan and a timeline of events that led to Thursday's filing:

California's response to court order requiring list of proposed population reduction measures; court ordere...

2006:

2007:  

2008:

2009:

2010:

2011:

2012:

2013:

As of April 24th, California’s prisons held 119,506 inmates. The prisons are at 149.5 percent of design capacity.