Appeal will argue for states’ rights
State Senator Tony Strickland today announced he will join fellow lawmakers in an appeal to the United States Supreme Court to reverse an order by a federal three judge panel requiring a reduction in California’s prison population by almost 26 percent.
On August 4 a three judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that medical and mental healthcare in California prisons fails to meet constitutional standards. Under this prisoner release order, the state of California is mandated to prepare within 45 days, and implement within two years, a plan to decrease its prison population to no more than 137.5 percent of design capacity. Based on the current prison population and a capacity of one-prisoner-per-cell defined by the court, this would require the release of approximately 45,000 prisoners.
“The prisoner release order harms the well-being and safety of every Californian,” said Strickland. “Ironically, California’s felons are receiving better healthcare than the average law-abiding citizen and the federal government spends less money on prison healthcare compared to our state. The court’s refusal to listen to any evidence in the contrary has compelled me to join my colleagues in appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Those colleagues include Senate Republican Leader Dennis Hollingsworth as well as other state legislators, district attorneys, sheriffs, police chiefs, and probation officers.
“There are two constitutional questions in our appeal. The first is an overreach by the Federal government. They have gone way beyond their jurisdiction. The second is that we’ve already spent billions of dollars demonstrating that California is operating with a constitutional level of care yet the courts refused to let us present that information at the hearing,” said Hollingsworth.
In addition to challenging the panel’s jurisdictional claims and the factual basis of the order, the coalition plans argue that ruling fails to comply with the federal Prison Litigation Reform Act, which dictates what types of prisoner lawsuits are heard in federal court.