While Governor Brown and his administration have mostly complied with a federal court order to reduce California’s prison population, efforts continue to fight the mandate when room for resistance presents itself. On Monday, California officials took the first step to appeal the reduction order to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Brown has lauded the fact that the state has spent billions to improve the state’s prison health care system. California has more than doubled the amount it spends on each inmate annually for health care. At the same time, however, concerns over a valley fever outbreak have complicated the issue, as well as realignment and reduction efforts.
In April, federal judges rejected an appeal to vacate the prison reduction order and ordered state officials to reduce California’s prison population by nearly 10,000 inmates by the end of the year. Not long after the decision, Brown vowed to appeal the court order to the highest court in the land.
According to 89.3 KPCC, Southern California Public Radio, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Deborah Hoffman announced that California has appealed the court order because the federal judges “did not fully or fairly consider the evidence that with our greatly reduced prison population, prison health care now exceeds constitutional standards.”
The state filed a notice of appeal to the district court — the first step in the appeal’s process — informing it of California’s intention to ask the Supreme Court to intervene. It could take years before the justices on the high court decide to take up the case or reject it. The Supreme Court sided with the initial reduction order in May 2011.
Given the high court’s decision to reject an appeal in 2011, Governor Brown’s efforts may be futile. However, given the state’s efforts to improve its prison system, it is possible the justices could, at the very least, hear the case.