Judicial Panel Says California May Be Required To Release Inmates

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, February 9, 2009

A special judicial panel says California may have to release tens of thousands of inmates to reduce prison overcrowding.
In a preliminary ruling today (Monday, 2.9), the panel of three judges said California is violating the constitutional rights of inmates.
Seth Unger is a spokesman with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
He says the ruling would put the public at risk… 
“This order would amount to us having to open the doors of seven to ten of our prisons and letting out all of the inmates.  It would certainly would jeopardize public safety…where we would have to release more than 50-thousand inmates from our prison system…”
It’s estimated there are roughly 160-thousand inmates in California prisons.  But, the San Francisco-based judicial panel did not rule specifically how many inmates would have to be released.
The preliminary ruling is not final and the judges want a series of public hearings before moving forward with the order.