What do we do when prisons become overcrowded? According the new Supreme Court ruling (for California), we can release a few thousand early, transfer them to another state (make it some other place’s problem) or build bigger prisons. At no point was there any suggestion about how to reduce the amount of people sent to prisons (violent vs nonviolent offenses, helping crime-rich communities, etc.). The rule was a decision for immediate action of reducing prisoners in hope to better their standard of living. The New York Time reports:
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.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in a 5-to-4 decision that broke along ideological lines, described a prison system that failed to deliver minimal care to prisoners with serious medical and mental health problems and produced “needless suffering and death.”
Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel A. Alito Jr. filed vigorous dissents. Justice Scalia called the order affirmed by the majority “perhaps the most radical injunction issued by a court in our nation’s history.” Justice Alito said “the majority is gambling with the safety of the people of California.”
[Continues at The New York Times]