On Friday evening, September 11, 2009, the Supreme Court issued a one-paragraph order, denying Governor Schwarzenegger’s motion to stay the August 4, 2009 order of a three-judge district court requiring California to develop a plan to bring prison overcrowding under control.

The three-judge district court found overwhelming evidence that crowding is the primary cause of California’s failure to provide a minimally humane level of medical and mental health care in its prison system, and that no remedy other than reducing the prison population would solve the problem. The three-judge district court found that many other states had successfully reduced their prison populations without harming public safety. The evidence also showed that prison overcrowding has harmful effects on public safety, including the effects of mixing low-level offenders with higher level ones, and cycling parolees through numerous short-term parole violations. With California’s motion for a stay now denied by the full Supreme Court, the Schwarzenegger administration must develop a plan to bring California’s dysfunctional corrections policies in line with the sound practices that have been proven to improve public safety in other states.

strong>Update, Oct. 8, 2009. In response to the State’s failure to submit a plan that met the court’s requirements, the plaintiff classes filed a response asking the three-judge court to begin contempt proceedings. Click here for PDF of Plaintiffs’ Oct. 8, 2009 Response and Application for Contempt Orders.