Monday, June 13, 2011

Federal Court Dictates to California on Number of Inmates

I'm stuck in Folsom Prison /And time keeps draggin' on… ~ Folsom Prison Blues, Johnny Cash (1966)

If the inmate of the Johnny Cash song was still in Folsom State Prison in 2011, he might not have to pine for freedom very much longer. The Supreme Court ruled on May 23 that California must reduce the population of its prison system by as much as 46,000 (out of a total of 159,000) in order to meet the demands of the Eighth Amendment (Brown v. Plata, no. 09-1233).

Citizens of California may rightly wonder how nine judges on the other side of the continent have anything to say about how the Golden State runs its prisons. This article will describe how the federal courts have applied the federal Eighth Amendment to this purpose in the past several decades. A sequel will describe the specifics of the Court's May 23 ruling and offer comments.

Read it all here and watch the video!

1 comment:

George Patsourakos said...

The U.S. Supreme Court must not have the "right" to tell California -- or any other state -- how many prisoners it can have. For the Supreme Court to do so is overstepping its authority, and violating a state's constitutional rights and powers.