The federal trial to determine if California state prisons are unconstitutionally overcrowded continues. According to this AP story, former chiefs of corrections from other states testified that California prisons are simply too big:
"I don't know of another state, your honor, that has anything approaching this level of overcrowding. It just doesn't exist," testified Joseph Lehman, who headed corrections systems in Pennsylvania, Maine and Washington state.
About 156,300 inmates currently are in 33 adult prisons designed for fewer than 100,000. Attorneys representing inmates say the prisons should hold no more than about 110,000 inmates, not including another 11,000 inmates in conservation camps or privately run prisons in California and other states.
Jeffrey Beard, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, said he considers 3,300 inmates to be the upper limit for a manageable prison. Twenty-seven California prisons hold more than that number.The trial before three Federal judges is examining if overcrowding is the primary cause for the failure of California prison inmate health systems. Both the medical and the mental care systems have already been taken over by court order. If the judges rule that overcrowding is the key issue, a trial next year will examine if California will be forced to reduce the number of prisoners by early release.