On politics in the Golden State

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Proposition 36 and prison overcrowding

November 6, 2012 |  4:40 pm

With a panel of federal judges watching closely over prison crowding, California correction officials have already estimated how many beds could be emptied by softening the state's three-strikes law.

Proposition 36 would authorize resentencing of those serving life sentences if their third conviction was not violent or serious. The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation makes no estimate of how many inmates would be affected in the prison population estimates released last week.

PHOTOS: America goes to the polls

However, in legal motions filed with federal courts, state officials say they expect some 3,000 inmates to be eligible for resentencing if Californians pass the ballot measure.

That isn't enough by itself for the state to meet federally ordered population caps by next July. The latest projections suggest California will exceed judges' order by more than 7,000 inmates. Although the state says it intends to prove it can provide constitutionally adequate housing at higher population levels, judges have given California until January to come up with a new population reduction plan or face the threat of being ordered to release inmates early.


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--Paige St. John in Sacramento