Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Supreme Court to Hear Arguments on Overcrowded California Prisons Today

Posted By on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 6:45 AM

click to enlarge Hot, flat, and crowded: San Quentin State Prison
  • Hot, flat, and crowded: San Quentin State Prison

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments today in Schwarzenegger v. Plata, the landmark prison-overcrowding lawsuit that could eventually result in tens of thousands of state inmates being released.

California has faced a lot of problems over the past couple years, from the now annual ritual of state budget meltdown to unconstitutional anti-gay ballot initiatives. Amidst so many woes, the issue of the state's failing prison system has almost taken a back seat.

Yet the Supremes' decision on whether to uphold a Court of Appeals order that the prison population be reduced by 40,000 will be enormously consequential for the state -- and for the prisoners who say they are languishing miserably in an overburdened system.

The ruling came in response to a lawsuit by prisoners, and found that inadequate medical and mental-health care constituted a form of cruel and unusual punishment.

State officials appealed, arguing that it's an unwarranted intrusion by the courts into the functioning of state government. It's an argument that resonates with other states, some 18 of which have filed briefs supporting California.

What can we expect from the High Court? Its conservative majority might be loath to issue a decision that could be seen as assailing states' rights; then again, the gross overcrowding of our prisons is plain to see. The Supremes' ruling will indicate whether we can, or should, look to the federal courts to do anything about it.

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , ,

About The Author

Peter Jamison


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"