n 2006, California prisons were forced to house inmates using double and triple bunking in gyms and day rooms. Since then, overcrowding has been reduced by 43,000 inmates, from 200 to 150 percent of capacity. Photo: California Department of Corrections

n 2006, California prisons were forced to house inmates using double and triple bunking in gyms and day rooms. Since then, overcrowding has been reduced by 43,000 inmates, from 200 to 150 percent of capacity. Photo: California Department of Corrections

In 2011, the US Supreme Court ruled that overcrowding in California’s prisons was “cruel and unusual punishment” with suicidal inmates held in cages without toilets and with treatment unavailable to the one-third who are mentally ill. The population was 200 percent larger than the prisons were designed for, and the court gave Governor Brown two years to reduce that to 137.5 percent. He created “realignment.” Inmates convicted of non-violent, non-sexual or non-serious state crimes are being sent to county jails instead of state prisons, which has cut overcrowding to 150 percent. Brown says is good enough. Now lower courts are threatening to hold him in contempt if he doesn’t meet their standard by the end of next week.

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