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Judges demand Brown comply with prison order

April 11, 2013|By Chris Megerian

SACRAMENTO --Gov. Jerry Brown's effort to eliminate or modify a court order to reduce prison overcrowding was rejected by federal judges Thursday.

The three judges issued a strongly worded decision that concluded by saying the state "will not be allowed to continue to violate the requirements of the Constitution of the United States."

The state prison system is under court oversight because judges say overcrowding has created conditions that violate the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

The judges gave the state 21 days to submit a plan for how it will reduce the prison population to 137.5% of design capacity by the end of the year. The deadline was originally June, but the state received an extension.

The current inmate population is 119,542, which is 146% of design capacity, according to Jeffrey Callison, a spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The population needs to be reduced by 9,500 inmates to hit the court's target.

Callison said department officials were reviewing the decision and did not have an immediate comment.

The Thursday decision is another setback for Brown, who says the state could save money by ending court oversight of the prison system.

Last week, in a related case, a federal judge said inmate mental healthcare has not improved enough to end oversight in that area.

Twitter: @chrismegerian

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