California State Prison Case Study

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As of September 2011, California incarcerated close to 144,000 inmates in its state prisons. This number fell in recent years owing to the pressure from SCOTUS and
California policy changes. In 2006, California had a peak incarceration rate of 172,000 inmates (Rogan, 2012). Since 1970, California has seen 750% rise in incarceration levels, especially during the “war on drugs” campaign during the 1990s (Harvard Law Review,
2010, p. 753).
With no end in sight to the rapidly growing number of inmates in California’s state prisons, the CDCR was challenged to manage the growing population. New prison construction was a short-term solution as the number of prisoners continued to rise and budgets continued to fall, limiting construction funding (Rogan,
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In Coleman v. Brown
(1990), the court ordered a reduction in California’s prison population to provide
California Realignment: Assembly Bill (AB) 109 8 constitutional levels of medical and mental health care, demonstrating the court’s ability to generate a comprehensive remedial solution to prison overcrowding (Harvard Law
Review, 2009). “The California governor and corrections officials have been sued by
California prisoners for violating their rights under the Eighth Amendment 's Cruel and
Unusual Punishment Clause for being deprived of adequate health care” (Spector, 2010,
p. 1). The safe operation of a prison is impossible with severe overcrowding (Spector,
2010). In a similar case filed approximately a decade later in Plata v. Brown (2001), the court ruled that the CDCR failed to provide adequate medical services and consequently violated the Eight Amendment (Rogan, 2012). The outcomes of these cases led to a court-ordered reduction in overcrowding, and because of the poor level and standards of prisoner healthcare, the California prison system was forced to change prisoners’ housing. One California prisoner dies every eight days for lack of sufficient medical
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Many inmates sleep in gyms, dayrooms, and other areas not intended for housing purposes (Gale, 2008). In 2011, Governor Jerry Brown and the Legislature approved a plan that would relocate low-level (non-serious), non-violent, non-sexual offenders (known as “the three-nons”) into the jurisdictional control of the counties in which they were arrested. Furthermore, the Governor’s plan allowed offenders to be released to the county probation system instead of the parole board (Medina, 2011).
The Court’s order is part of a two-decade long battle over medical and mental
California Realignment: Assembly Bill (AB) 109 9 health care in California prisons (Harvard Law Review, 2010). The first of the two cases was originally filed on April 23, 1990. In Coleman v. Brown, a United States magistrate judge found that the CDCR did not provide adequate healthcare to their inmates and therefore was in violation of the United States’ Eighth Amendment (Harvard Law
Review, 2010). The second case of Plata v. Brown was filed in 2001. This case followed the precedent set in the Coleman case. Plata v. Brown argued that the
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