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Thread: Justices Order California to Shed 30,000 Prisoners

  1. #1
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    Justices Order California to Shed 30,000 Prisoners

    [URL="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/24/us/24scotus.html?_r=1&hp"]www.nytimes.com_scotus[/URL]


    [QUOTE]

    WASHINGTON — [B]Conditions in California’s overcrowded prisons are so bad that they violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday, ordering the state to reduce its prison population by more than 30,000 inmates. [/B]

    Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in a 5-to-4 decision that broke along ideological lines, described a prison system that failed to deliver minimal care to prisoners with serious medical and mental health problems and produced “needless suffering and death.”

    [B]Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel A. Alito Jr. filed vigorous dissents. Justice Scalia called the order affirmed by the majority “perhaps the most radical injunction issued by a court in our nation’s history.” Justice Alito said “the majority is gambling with the safety of the people of California.” [/B]

    The majority opinion included photographs of inmates crowded into open gymnasium-style rooms and what Justice Kennedy described as “telephone-booth-sized cages without toilets” used to house suicidal inmates. Suicide rates in the state’s prisons, Justice Kennedy wrote, have been 80 percent higher than the national average. A lower court in the case said it was “an uncontested fact” that “an inmate in one of California’s prisons needlessly dies every six or seven days due to constitutional deficiencies.”

    Monday’s ruling in the case, Brown v. Plata, No. 09-1233, affirmed an order by a special three-judge federal court requiring state officials to reduce the prison population to 110,000, which is 137.5 percent of the system’s capacity. There have been more than 160,000 inmates in the system in recent years, and there are currently more than 140,000.

    [B]State officials will have two years to comply with the order, and they may ask for more time. Justice Kennedy emphasized that the reduction in population need not be achieved solely by releasing prisoners early. Among the other possibilities, he said, are new construction, out-of-state transfers and using county facilities. [/B]

    At the same time, Justice Kennedy, citing the lower-court decision, said there was “no realistic possibility that California will be able to build itself out of this crisis” in light of the state’s financial problems. The court’s four more liberal members — Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — joined Justice Kennedy’s opinion.

    The special court’s order, issued in 2009, addressed two consolidated class actions. One was filed in 1990, the other in 2001. In 2006, Arnold Schwarzenegger, then California’s governor, said conditions in the state’s prison’s amounted to a state of emergency.

    The majority seemed persuaded that the passage of time required the courts to act.

    Justice Scalia summarized his dissent, which was pungent and combative, from the bench. Oral dissents are rare; this was the second of the term. Justice Kennedy looked straight ahead as his colleague spoke, his face frozen in a grim expression.

    Justice Scalia focused mostly on what he said was the problem of courts overstepping their constitutional authority and institutional expertise in issuing “structural injunctions” in “institutional-reform litigation” rather than addressing legal violations one by one.

    He added that the prisoners receiving inadequate care were not necessarily the ones who would be released early.

    “Most of them will not be prisoners with medical conditions or severe mental illness,” Justice Scalia wrote, “and many will undoubtedly be fine physical specimens who have developed intimidating muscles pumping iron in the prison gym.”

    In his statement from the bench, Justice Scalia said that the prisoners to be released “are just 46,000 happy-go-lucky felons fortunate enough to be selected.”

    Justice Kennedy concluded his majority opinion by saying that the lower court should be flexible in considering how to implement its order.

    Justice Scalia called this concluding portion of the majority opinion “a bizarre coda” setting forth “a deliberately ambiguous set of suggestions on how to modify the injunction.”

    “Perhaps,” he went on, “the coda is nothing more than a ceremonial washing of the hands — making it clear for all to see, that if the terrible things sure to happen as a consequence of this outrageous order do happen, they will be none of this court’s responsibility. After all, did we not want, and indeed even suggest, something better?”

    Justice Clarence Thomas joined Justice Scalia’s dissent.

    In a second dissent, Justice Alito, joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., addressed what he said would be the inevitable impact of the majority decision on public safety in California.

    He summarized the decision this way: “The three-judge court ordered the premature release of approximately 46,000 criminals — the equivalent of three Army divisions.”

    Justice Alito acknowledged that “particular prisoners received shockingly deficient medical care.” But, he added, “such anecdotal evidence cannot be given undue weight” in light of the sheer size of California’s prison system, which was at its height “larger than that of many medium-sized cities” like Bridgeport, Conn., Eugene, Ore., and Savannah, Ga.

    “I fear that today’s decision, like prior prisoner release orders, will lead to a grim roster of victims,” Justice Alito wrote. “I hope that I am wrong. In a few years, we will see.”

    [/QUOTE]

  2. #2
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  3. #3
    scalia is such a blowhard. I wonder how a dude like that actually made it to the SCOTUS. most of the justices control themselves when things don't go their way.

    note the decision didn't say they had to release 30k. they could transfer, new prisons etc.

  4. #4
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    [QUOTE=bitonti;4035085]scalia is such a blowhard. I wonder how a dude like that actually made it to the SCOTUS. most of the justices control themselves when things don't go their way.

    note the decision didn't say they had to release 30k. they could transfer, new prisons etc.[/QUOTE]

    Or they could just build 30,000 more seats for the Raiders games.

  5. #5
    prison guards in California average $140'000 annually with overtime. Plus benefits. Most live in rural areas. The retire in their 40 's with pensions of 75k for life and yet there is no money......

    This has been well documented but the state government in CA are unwilling do anything about it.

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    [QUOTE=southparkcpa;4035126]prison guards in California average [B]$140'000 annually with overtime. Plus benefits. Most live in rural areas. The retire in their 40 's with pensions of 75k for life[/B] and yet there is no money......

    This has been well documented but the state government in CA are unwilling do anything about it.[/QUOTE]

    In all seriousness, that still wouldn't be enough incentive for me to do that job. A thankless, extremely dangerous, and miserable job day in and day out.

  7. #7
    [QUOTE=JetPotato;4035135]In all seriousness, that still wouldn't be enough incentive for me to do that job. A thankless, extremely dangerous, and miserable job day in and day out.[/QUOTE]

    +1. I think Jetworks is a prison guard, perhaps on Rikers.

  8. #8
    [QUOTE=JetPotato;4035112]Or they could just build 30,000 more seats for the Raiders games.[/QUOTE]

    hey-oooo

    :rimshot:

  9. #9
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    Exactly why liberals should never be allowed on the Supreme Court. "Cruel and unusual punishment"? Unfarginbelievable. :rolleyes:

  10. #10
    [QUOTE=quantum;4035397]Exactly why liberals should never be allowed on the Supreme Court. "Cruel and unusual punishment"? Unfarginbelievable. :rolleyes:[/QUOTE]

    i hope that was sarcasm. have you read the constitution?

  11. #11
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    [QUOTE=southparkcpa;4035126]prison guards in California average $140'000 annually with overtime. Plus benefits. Most live in rural areas. The retire in their 40 's with pensions of 75k for life and yet there is no money......

    This has been well documented but the state government in CA are unwilling do anything about it.[/QUOTE]

    Bear in mind that a large reason the salary is so high is lower than necessary staffing levels. Unlike most other jobs, when there is someone missing at work in a jail or prison it creates a hole that must be filled, lawfully. There are also other factors such as court-ordered consent decrees, minimum standards etc.

    It's the typical city government shuffle. No money for new hires (cheaper in the short term), so pay vets OT to fill the holes (more money long term). Either way, directing your ire at the officers is not the way to go.

    [QUOTE=pauliec;4035145]+1. I think Jetworks is a prison guard, perhaps on Rikers.[/QUOTE]

    Correct. I am a CO there for the past 21 years.

  12. #12
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    [QUOTE=southparkcpa;4035126]Most live in rural areas. .[/QUOTE]

    LMFAO!!!

    Rural California is SO cheap too. :rolleyes:




    Random Person: So I got a new car yeste....
    CPA: THOSE PEOPLE ARE OVER PAIIIIID!!

    Random Person: Anyone know a good coffee sho....
    CPA: THOSE PEOPLE ARE OVER PAIIIIID!!

    Random Person: Gorgeous outside. Would be a great day to head to the beach with the fami...
    CPA: THOSE PEOPLE ARE OVER PAIIIIID!!

    Random Person: The printer is out of pape...
    CPA: THOSE PEOPLE ARE OVER PAIIIIID!!

  13. #13
    [QUOTE=PlumberKhan;4035478]LMFAO!!!

    Rural California is SO cheap too. :rolleyes:




    Random Person: So I got a new car yeste....
    CPA: THOSE PEOPLE ARE OVER PAIIIIID!!

    Random Person: Anyone know a good coffee sho....
    CPA: THOSE PEOPLE ARE OVER PAIIIIID!!

    Random Person: Gorgeous outside. Would be a great day to head to the beach with the fami...
    CPA: THOSE PEOPLE ARE OVER PAIIIIID!!

    Random Person: The printer is out of pape...
    CPA: THOSE PEOPLE ARE OVER PAIIIIID!![/QUOTE]

    Poor, Poor Plumber...............

  14. #14
    California should outsource their prison population to Mexico. We should put NAFTA to good use.

  15. #15
    [QUOTE=Jetworks;4035411].



    Correct. I am a CO there for the past 21 years.[/QUOTE]

    I'm sure you've witnessed some crazy stuff. Have you seen that French jerk from the IMF this past week at all?

  16. #16
    [QUOTE=bitonti;4035398]i hope that was sarcasm. have you read the constitution?[/QUOTE]

    [QUOTE=US Constitution]Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
    [/QUOTE]

    He has now.

    The actual defining of what constitutes "Cruel and Unusual Punishment", and what is or isn't accepted or acceptable at any point in history, has been almost exclusively decied by the courts, not by the text of the Constituion.

    For ultra-basic reference on the topic:

    [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruel_and_unusual_punishment[/url]

    [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eighth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution[/url]

  17. #17
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    [QUOTE=pauliec;4035574]I'm sure you've witnessed some crazy stuff. Have you seen that French jerk from the IMF this past week at all?[/QUOTE]

    No, I didn't see him, but the amount of media just outside the Island was nuts while he was here. There had to be, with support people, about 100+ in little camps. Ridiculous.

  18. #18
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    [QUOTE=JetPotato;4035135]In all seriousness, that still wouldn't be enough incentive for me to do that job. A thankless, extremely dangerous, and miserable job day in and day out.[/QUOTE]


    Hey, we agree.

    Right out of college I worked for a company that did business with the Jamesburg School for boys in NJ.

    Every day I went there was extremely depressing.

  19. #19
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    [QUOTE=bitonti;4035398]i hope that was sarcasm. have you read the constitution?[/QUOTE]

    hyerbole, by not by much. And I have: prisoners are not entitled to a country club because they're BEING PUNISHED.

  20. #20
    [QUOTE=Warfish;4035623]He has now.

    The actual defining of what constitutes "Cruel and Unusual Punishment", and what is or isn't accepted or acceptable at any point in history, has been almost exclusively decied by the courts, not by the text of the Constituion.

    For ultra-basic reference on the topic:

    [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruel_and_unusual_punishment[/url]

    [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eighth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution[/url][/QUOTE]

    Are you suggesting that since it was undefined the Courts have no right to look at and determine if the system is cruel or the punishment unusually harsh for whatever reason and ask for the offending government to rectify or if they fail to do that impose some fix themselves?

    California's governor called the system in a state of emergency. They have a system built to contain 80,000 that holds between 120 and 160,000 that is failing to maintain basic living conditions.
    Last edited by Winstonbiggs; 05-24-2011 at 04:55 PM.

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