Judges won't ease Calif. prison crowding order, but state may have more time

Mule Creek Prison

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation / EPA

Mule Creek Prison's design capacity is for 1,700 prisoners. Today the prison houses 3,769 prisoners.

A panel of federal judges says it won't ease up its order for California to cut its prison population, but may give state officials more time to comply.

California officials say they won't be able to meet a court-ordered deadline to cut 33,000 inmates from the state's 33 adult prisons by June 2013. State prison officials planned to ask the judges' permission to house an additional 3,000 inmates, saying they can keep a higher population while also improving medical and mental health care.

The three judges wrote in a four-page ruling Friday that they are not willing to reconsider their population cap order, which was upheld last year by the U.S. Supreme Court.

However, the judges say they would consider extending the state's deadline by six months, until December 2013.

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