Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Monday, May 23, 2011

High court orders drastic prison population reduction in California -- and releasing all these criminals back into the public

The Supreme Court has affirmed a federal order telling California to reduce its overflowing prison population, a situation the majority said "falls below the standard of decency."

The 5-4 ruling Monday from the justices come in a classic battle over state versus federal authority, focusing on whether U.S. courts can step in and essentially run state prisons when officials have repeatedly violated basic constitutional guarantees afforded inmates.

The issue came down to a sharply divided debate between public safety concerns and individual rights, a debate that goes into how the three branches of government should balance competing state interests.

The swing vote was Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote of the "continuing injury and harm resulting from these serious constitutional violations," including as many as 156,000 people crammed in correctional facilities designed to hold about half that many.

He noted "needless suffering and death have been the well-documented result. Over the whole course of years during which this litigation has been pending, no other remedies have been found to be sufficient."

In dissent, Justice Samuel Alito warned any mass release of inmates to alleviate overcrowding would be "gambling with the safety of the people of California." (read more)