Calif. Faces Deadline for Reducing Inmate Population by 40,000

The state of California is under court order to submit plans by Sept. 18 for reducing its prison population by 40,000 inmates — a plan that advocates hope will include more alternatives to incarceration, including addiction treatment services.

The Washington Post reported Sept. 15 that federal courts have ordered the California prison system to reduce its prisoner population by nearly one-quarter, citing overcrowding and health problems.

The plan due this week must address the court’s demands within two years. The court has turned away calls by the state government for a delay while an appeal of the ruling works through the judicial system.

State officials claim that the order could force them to simply release prisoners, putting public safety at risk. But the governor’s office is promising to submit a plan to meet the deadline.

California spends $9.5 billion annually on prisons, but facilities are still operating at double their capacity.

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