SACRAMENTO -- Federal judges on Friday told Gov. Jerry Brown he has all the authority he needs to begin moving inmates into leased lockups or paroling the frail and elderly, but not to continue sending new inmates to private prisons out of state.
The ruling creates a hitch for the administration's announced plans to deal with prison overcrowding entirely by moving inmates rather than releasing them.
"As I understand it, the state doesn’t have the fiscal authority to spend money to send more prisoners out of state," said Don Specter, lead attorney for the Prison Law Office, which brought one of the two class-action lawsuits that led to the prison crowding order.
Friday's ruling was requested by the attorney general's office, which sought clarification on exactly which laws and rules judges waived in June when they ordered Brown to reduce prison crowding.
"We will take the necessary steps to ensure that we can pursue every option for meeting the court's population reduction order," corrections spokeswoman Deborah Hoffman said, adding that it does not preclude "pursuing additional capacity."