SCOTUS orders release of 30,000 CA criminals

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ordered the state of California to release more than 30,000 prisoners due to overcrowding.

LA Times:

Justices upheld an order from a three-judge panel in California that called for releasing 38,000 to 46,000 prisoners. Since then, the state has transferred about 9,000 state inmates to county jails. As a result, the total prison population is now about 32,000 more than the capacity limit set by the panel.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, speaking for the majority, said California's prisons had "fallen short of minimum constitutional requirements" because of overcrowding. As many as 200 prisoners may live in gymnasium, he said, and as many as 54 prisoners share a single toilet.

Kennedy insisted that the state had no choice but to release more prisoners. The justices, however, agreed that California officials should be given more time to make the needed reductions.

In dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia called the ruling "staggering" and "absurd."

He said the high court had repeatedly overruled the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for ordering the release of individual prisoners. Now, he said, the majority were ordering the release of "46,000 happy-go-lucky felons." He added that "terrible things are sure to happen as a consequence of this outrageous order." Justice Clarence Thomas agreed with him.

Well, maybe it won't be too bad.

Kennedy said the judges in California overseeing the prison-release order should "accord the state considerable latitude to find mechanisms and make plans" that are "consistent with the public safety."

Plans "consistent with public safety" would almost certainly include keeping most of those 30,000 inmates locked up. This is not about public safety, it's about California's failure of political will to build enough prisons to house their convict population. Most of those let go will no doubt not be violent criminals. But you can bet there will be enough of them to wreak havoc on the state for years to come.
 
Thomas Lifson adds:

If Rick is going to mention "political will," we need to consider the outsize political influence of the prison guards union, which has driven California's cost per prisoner to levels double and more of other states, via massive political contributions to the state legislators (it is the largest source of political funds for legislators). The Wall Street Journal, in a tongue in cheek op-ed advising high school grads to become a prison guard instead of entering Harvard,  summarizes the incredible salaries and benefits enjoyed by prison  guards -- a job which requires only a high school diploma or a GED:
[T] he California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations boasts that it "has been called 'the greatest entry-level job in California'-and for good reason. Our officers earn a great salary, and a retirement package you just can't find in private industry. We even pay you to attend our academy." That's right-instead of paying more than $200,000 to attend Harvard, you could earn $3,050 a month at cadet academy. [snip]

Training only takes four months, and upon graduating you can look forward to a job with great health, dental and vision benefits and a starting base salary between $45,288 and $65,364. By comparison, Harvard grads can expect to earn $49,897 fresh out of college and $124,759 after 20 years.

As a California prison guard, you can make six figures in overtime and bonuses alone. While Harvard-educated lawyers and consultants often have to work long hours with little recompense besides Chinese take-out, prison guards receive time-and-a-half whenever they work more than 40 hours a week. One sergeant with a base salary of $81,683 collected $114,334 in overtime and $8,648 in bonuses last year, and he's not even the highest paid.

Sure, Harvard grads working in the private sector get bonuses, too, but only if they're good at what they do. Prison guards receive a $1,560 "fitness" bonus just for getting an annual check-up.

If we are going to speak of "political will," how about outsourcing California prisons to locations which can house prisoners at a reasonable cost? For instance, roughly a third of inmates are illegal aliens. Let's ask Mexico, El Salvador, and other countries of origin, to house their nationals in prisons there, which fully meet local standards, with California taxpayers picking up the tab.  That should cut the cost per prisoner by 90% or more.

Or how about asking Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio to house the inmates in the desert camps he successfully runs, wearing pink boxers and eating bologna sandwiches? The cost per inmate per day is in single digits.

California has no extra money to spend on prisons. We have to find ways to cut the cost per prisoner. The problem is that the Democrat governor and legislature are bought and paid for by the prison guards union. That is the problem of political will that we face.
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ordered the state of California to release more than 30,000 prisoners due to overcrowding.

LA Times:

Justices upheld an order from a three-judge panel in California that called for releasing 38,000 to 46,000 prisoners. Since then, the state has transferred about 9,000 state inmates to county jails. As a result, the total prison population is now about 32,000 more than the capacity limit set by the panel.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, speaking for the majority, said California's prisons had "fallen short of minimum constitutional requirements" because of overcrowding. As many as 200 prisoners may live in gymnasium, he said, and as many as 54 prisoners share a single toilet.

Kennedy insisted that the state had no choice but to release more prisoners. The justices, however, agreed that California officials should be given more time to make the needed reductions.

In dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia called the ruling "staggering" and "absurd."

He said the high court had repeatedly overruled the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for ordering the release of individual prisoners. Now, he said, the majority were ordering the release of "46,000 happy-go-lucky felons." He added that "terrible things are sure to happen as a consequence of this outrageous order." Justice Clarence Thomas agreed with him.

Well, maybe it won't be too bad.

Kennedy said the judges in California overseeing the prison-release order should "accord the state considerable latitude to find mechanisms and make plans" that are "consistent with the public safety."

Plans "consistent with public safety" would almost certainly include keeping most of those 30,000 inmates locked up. This is not about public safety, it's about California's failure of political will to build enough prisons to house their convict population. Most of those let go will no doubt not be violent criminals. But you can bet there will be enough of them to wreak havoc on the state for years to come.
 
Thomas Lifson adds:

If Rick is going to mention "political will," we need to consider the outsize political influence of the prison guards union, which has driven California's cost per prisoner to levels double and more of other states, via massive political contributions to the state legislators (it is the largest source of political funds for legislators). The Wall Street Journal, in a tongue in cheek op-ed advising high school grads to become a prison guard instead of entering Harvard,  summarizes the incredible salaries and benefits enjoyed by prison  guards -- a job which requires only a high school diploma or a GED:
[T] he California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations boasts that it "has been called 'the greatest entry-level job in California'-and for good reason. Our officers earn a great salary, and a retirement package you just can't find in private industry. We even pay you to attend our academy." That's right-instead of paying more than $200,000 to attend Harvard, you could earn $3,050 a month at cadet academy. [snip]

Training only takes four months, and upon graduating you can look forward to a job with great health, dental and vision benefits and a starting base salary between $45,288 and $65,364. By comparison, Harvard grads can expect to earn $49,897 fresh out of college and $124,759 after 20 years.

As a California prison guard, you can make six figures in overtime and bonuses alone. While Harvard-educated lawyers and consultants often have to work long hours with little recompense besides Chinese take-out, prison guards receive time-and-a-half whenever they work more than 40 hours a week. One sergeant with a base salary of $81,683 collected $114,334 in overtime and $8,648 in bonuses last year, and he's not even the highest paid.

Sure, Harvard grads working in the private sector get bonuses, too, but only if they're good at what they do. Prison guards receive a $1,560 "fitness" bonus just for getting an annual check-up.

If we are going to speak of "political will," how about outsourcing California prisons to locations which can house prisoners at a reasonable cost? For instance, roughly a third of inmates are illegal aliens. Let's ask Mexico, El Salvador, and other countries of origin, to house their nationals in prisons there, which fully meet local standards, with California taxpayers picking up the tab.  That should cut the cost per prisoner by 90% or more.

Or how about asking Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio to house the inmates in the desert camps he successfully runs, wearing pink boxers and eating bologna sandwiches? The cost per inmate per day is in single digits.

California has no extra money to spend on prisons. We have to find ways to cut the cost per prisoner. The problem is that the Democrat governor and legislature are bought and paid for by the prison guards union. That is the problem of political will that we face.

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