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Judges deny state's request to delay prison order

September 3, 2009 |  4:36 pm

A panel of federal judges today denied state officials’ request to delay an order that they produce a plan to reduce California's prison population by 40,000 inmates.

Aides to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have said they would take their request to the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday.

In denying the state’s request, the judges said they had been “more than patient with the state and its officials” and harshly criticized them for “conflicting representations” in court that have forced the cases to drag on.

“Further delays and obstruction will not well serve the people of the state, and will not be tolerated by this court,” wrote U.S. District Judges Thelton Henderson and Lawrence Karlton, and U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt.
In their order last month, the judges said overcrowding is the primary cause of substandard healthcare and mental health care in state prisons. They required the state to produce a plan by Sept. 18 to relieve the overcrowding.

State officials, in requesting a delay, had said they would be wasting taxpayer resources putting together a plan that ultimately might be unnecessary after an appeal of the order. The appeal was filed separately today.

The judges noted that a proposal to reduce prison overcrowding has been approved in the state Senate and part of that plan passed the Assembly.

“Indeed, the state has already completed much of the necessary work to develop a plan that could satisfy much or all of our order,” they wrote.

—Michael Rothfeld in Sacramento