San Francisco – April 10, 2013 – Following last week’s denial of the State of California’s motion to terminate federal court oversight of California prison mental health services by Judge Karlton, a special Three Judge Court today also denied the State of California’s Motion to Vacate or Modify the Court’s Population Reduction Order that had been filed on January 7, 2013.   (Links to court orders provided below)

According to the court’s decision: “Defendants must immediately take all steps necessary to comply with this Court’s June 30, 2011 Order, as amended by its January 29, 2013 Order, requiring defendants to reduce overall prison population to 137.5% design capacity by December 31, 2013.”

“The judges have put it in the strongest terms possible that the State of California must act now to reduce prison population to court-ordered levels to address the ongoing inhumane and unconstitutional conditions in the state’s prisons,” said Michael Bien of Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld, who represents prisoners in the ongoing suits.

“The three-judge panel issued a 71-page opinion that painstakingly reviews every item of evidence that the State submitted.  With all of the State’s delays and appeals, they have gotten more than enough chances to litigate and re-litigate the issue of prison overcrowding.  It’s time for the state to stop the endless legal war, and start taking the practical and affordable steps ordered by this court and affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court to reduce California’s prison population to constitutional levels,” said co-counsel Ernest Galvan.

Today’s court opinion concludes: “That Governor Brown may believe, contrary to the evidence before this Court, that ‘prison crowding [is] no longer . . . inhibit[ing] the delivery of timely and effective health services to inmates,’ will not constitute an excuse for his failure to comply with the orders of this Court. Having been granted a six-month extension, defendants have no further excuse for non-compliance. If defendants do not take all steps necessary to comply with this Court’s June 30, 2011 Order, as amended by this Court’s January 29, 2013 Order, including complying with the order filed in conjunction with this opinion, they will without further delay be subject to findings of contempt, individually and collectively. We make this observation reluctantly, but with determination that defendants will not be allowed to continue to violate the requirements of the Constitution of the United States.”

 Contact:  Michael Bien or Ernest Galvan — 415-433-6830

 Today’s court orders:

Opinion and Order Denying Defendants Motion to Vacate or Modify Population Reduction Order 4-10-13

Order Requiring List of Proposed Population Reduction Measures 4-10-13

Selected media coverage:

Steinberg unveils plan to east prison overcrowding in California, KCRA Sacramento, May 7, 2013

California Tries to Regain Fuller Control of Prisons, New York Times, April 20, 2013

Judges deny California bid to end prison oversight, AP, April 10, 2013

Judges threaten Jerry Brown with contempt of court, Los Angeles Times, April 10, 2013

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