News Release

Supreme Court California Prison Ruling


The New York Times reports today on the Supreme Court’s ruling on California’s prison system: “Conditions in California’s overcrowded prisons are so bad that they violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday, ordering the state to reduce its prison population by more than 30,000 inmates.”

ED MEAD, mead at
Mead is publisher of Prison Focus magazine, the director of the Prison Art Project and a former prisoner. He said today: “California’s prisons are designed to house a population just under 80,000, but the current number of prisoners in that system is double that. The lower courts have held that such conditions are cruel and unusual punishment as prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court agrees. Where the court has gone wrong is in giving the state of California two years within which to rectify these conditions, with an offer of freely given extensions after that. The special master appointed by the district court found that one prisoner a week was dying as a result of medical neglect inside California’s prisons. To give that state years to fix this problem is wrong. It is not just medical neglect that is impacted as a result of overcrowding, it is all forms of violence. If you pack rats in a cage too tightly they will react in negative ways; the same is true with humans. The law gives primates more living space that it does California’s prisoners.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167