Sacto 911: Four ex-governors seek delay in inmate releases

sstanton@sacbee.comJuly 15, 2013 

A gymnasium at San Quentin State Prison in 2009 illustrates an inmate population that had far exceeded capacity. Since then Gov. Jerry Brown's administration has implemented a prison "realignment program" that has reduced overcrowding. A panel of federal judges, however, says California must reduce its prison population even more.

ERIC RISBERG — Associated Press file, 2009

Four former California governors are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a stay that would delay the court-ordered release of nearly 10,000 prison inmates.

The ex-governors -- Pete Wilson, George Deukmejian, Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger -- joined current Gov. Jerry Brown in asking the nation's highest court to stop the release of any inmates while California waits to see if the Supreme Court will hear its appeal.

The release of inmates "threatens the people of California with grave and irreparable harm from increased crime," the former governors wrote in a "friend of the court" brief filed today by the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in Sacramento.

The filing stems from a June 20 order by a panel of three federal judges requiring the state to release nearly 10,000 inmates by the end of the year. The order comes after years of legal jousting over whether the state is providing adequate mental health services and health care to inmates.

The inmates' attorneys have lauded the order from the three-judge panel as a sign that the state must comply with findings that the prisons are too crowded to properly care for inmates.

But the Brown administration appealed to the high court and asked for a stay from the three-judge panel.

The panel rejected the request on July 3, and the state subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court.

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