Prisoner release: California submits revised prisoner reduction plan to court

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Inmates at the Mule Creek State Prison crowd between bunk beds in a gymnasium that was modified to house prisoners in Ione, California. The Mule Creek State Prison has had to modify several facilities to make room for an increasing number of inmates.

California officials file a plan with a federal court on Tuesday outlining how they’ll reduce the state’s prison population by as many as 32,000 inmates. A panel of federal district judges ordered the state to make the cuts within two years. They say severe crowding in state prisons causes deadly lapses in prisoners’ medical and mental healthcare.

The state packs 140,000 inmates into facilities designed for 80,000. California has to shrink the population to 110,000 inmates in stages, and it's supposed to achieve the first reduction of 10,000 six months from now.

A couple of years ago, the court approved a population reduction plan that included transferring more inmates to prisons in other states, placing some low-level offenders under house arrest and changing certain non-violent felonies to misdemeanors.

This week, state officials are expected to modify their plan so it includes Gov. Jerry Brown’s recently enacted realignment plan. The new law shifts thousands of low-level, non-violent felons to county custody starting next month. But that four-year, $5 billion plan that will only take effect if the legislature agrees to pay for it, and the state is likely to seek more time to get it going.

Map: California state prisons and prison populations

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