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U.S. Supreme Court Won't Delay Release of Thousands of California Inmates

Flickr user Mark Fischer
Creative Commons License / Flickr.com

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to delay the release of thousands of inmates from California’s prisons. In a decision announced today the Justices denied a stay requested by Governor Jerry Brown. Brown is fighting a ruling from a federal three-judge-panel that orders California to reduce its prison population by about 10-thousand inmates by the end of the year. Three Justices voted to grant the stay.

Attorney Mike Bien represents inmates involved in the court case. He says the decision is significant because it appears the state was gambling everything on this stay.

“This was a very serious stay application. They raised all their arguments. They filed hundreds of pages of documents. They used specially hired Supreme Court counsel at over a thousand dollars an hour to raise these arguments,” says Bien.

A court ruled in 2009 that overcrowding in California’s prisons had created unconstitutional health conditions. Brown maintains the state has already reduced the prison population enough to address the problem. He says any further releases would jeopardize public safety.