Three-judge panel grants CA more time to negotiate plan to comply with prison population cap


A three-judge panel yesterday granted California another one-month extension to negotiate a plan to comply with the court-ordered inmate population cap of 137.5% of design capacity and to ensure a “durable solution to the prison overcrowding problem.”

The deadline for compliance has been pushed back to Feb. 24, 2014. (The deadline was previously set for Dec. 31, 2013. It was extended to Jan. 27, 2014 in late September.)

Read more: California asks court for 3-year extension to comply with prison population cap

The latest orders were prompted by the state’s request, filed in September, for a 3-year extension to comply with the 137.5% population cap.

Gov. Jerry Brown claimed that the state cannot release the 8,500 inmates required by the end of the year without jeopardizing public safety. Unless the court grants a 3-year extension, Brown said the state would have to expand incarceration capacities by leasing prison beds out-of-state.

The extension would give state officials more time to “meet and confer” with plaintiffs in the Coleman v. Brown and Plata v. Brown class action lawsuits to explore ways the state can meet the 137.5% population cap without transferring more inmates to out-of-state prisons.

Read more: Three-judge panel compels California to expand “good time” credits to comply with federal order to reduce prison population

Topics that would be covered during the “meet and confer” process – facilitated by Judge Peter Siggins – include:

  • three strikers;
  • juveniles;
  • the elderly and medically inform;
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement prisoners;
  • the implementation of the Low Risk List;
  • and “any other means, including relocation within the state, that are included in the [state’s] May 2, 2013 List.”

Siggins is expected to update the three-judge panel on the settlement talks by Nov. 18th. During this period, the state is barred from entering into any contracts to lease out-of-state prison beds or “otherwise increase the number of inmates who are housed in out-of-state facilities.”

The three-judge panel imposed the population cap after concluding that the state was failing to provide the constitutional level of medical and mental health care to inmates – in violation of the Eighth Amendment – due to chronic and severe prison overcrowding. The panel’s order was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.


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