How would the state of California cut 46,000 prisoners from its incarcerated population? That tall order might soon be mandatory as the U.S. Supreme Court today decided to take up a long-standing fight over our state’s overcrowded and dysfunctional prison system. The Supreme Court will hear an appeal from Gov. Schwarzenegger against an order from federal judges that the state must somehow relieve the crowding in California prisons in order to provide adequate medical care. The panel of three federal judges found that overcrowding was the primary cause of prisoner mistreatment and ordered the release of 46,000 inmates over the next two years. Are there any clues on how the Supreme Court might rule, and what classification of prisoners might win their freedom a little earlier than expected?
Robert Weisberg, Professor of Law and Director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center at Stanford Law School