Sen. George Runner announced that he and other GOP lawmakers, and California district attorneys, police and sheriff, filed a brief Friday in U.S. Supreme Court that seeks to reverse the order of the federal three-judge court requiring early release of some 38,000 California prisoners in order to improve health care provided to inmates.
“First of all, it’s doubtful the district court has the jurisdiction to order California to release or divert convicts from prison,” said Runner, the lead Senate Republican intervenor in the case before the three-judge court.
Runner believes the three-judge panel misinterpreted the law which limits the capacity of a federal court to takeover a state prison system. Known as the Prison Litigation Reform Act, and passed by Congress in 1995, the law states that a federal court “shall enter a prisoner release order only if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that crowding is the primary cause of the violation of a federal right and no other relief will remedy the violation of the federal right.”
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Runner said: “We don’t believe an ongoing violation exists and we know that the three-judge panel’s decision affirmatively threatens public safety.”
The federal three-judge court ordered the massive reduction of California’s prison population based on allegations of constitutionally deficient inmate health care. But federal documents establish that California inmates have lower mortality rates than inmates from 37 other states and even the general public.
“Inmate health care costs California taxpayers more than $14,000 per year per prisoner,” Runner said. “Most California workers wish they had this type of health care access.”