Wow, potentially 33,000 prisoners set free because of overcrowding? What are they saying in California about this?
The U.S. Supreme Court handed out tens of thousands of “get out of jail” passes to California inmates yesterday.
Ruling that massive overcrowding and deplorable living conditions in its state-run prisons are in violation of the Constitution, the court’s 5-4 decision obliges California to release about 33,000 prisoners.
The inmates will be released over the next two years from a system that has caused “needless suffering and death,” according to the majority opinion.
“The release of prisoners in large numbers — assuming the state finds no other way to comply with the order — is a matter of undoubted, grave concern,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the ruling. “Yet so too is the continuing injury and harm resulting from these serious constitutional violations.”…
n his dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia called the majority opinion “perhaps the most radical injunction issued by a court in our nation’s history,” and argued that the likely release of so many convicts would result in “terrible” consequences.
Attorney Rebekah Evenson of the nonprofit Prison Law Office in Berkeley, Calif., which counseled the plaintiffs, told The Daily there is no basis for such fears. “This is a landmark decision that will result in safer prisons, safer streets and billions of dollars in savings for California taxpayers,” she said. “Overcrowded prisons have not only resulted in unnecessary deaths of prisoners; they’ve resulted in higher recidivism rates, and the court agreed.”
However, writing a separate dissent from Scalia’s, Justice Samuel Alito echoed the pessimism about releasing such a large number of prisoners.
“The majority is gambling with the safety of the people of California,” Alito wrote. “I fear that today’s decision, like prior prisoner release orders, will lead to a grim roster of victims. I hope that I am wrong.”