It might not have been a story, but when Justice Kennedy speaks, the world hears. It’s about the perennial overcrowding of our prisons which has been the subject of lawsuits for years. The State is appealing an order which would force the release or transfer of about 40,000 prisoners.
California’s bid to block a court order that would require the state to release or transfer more than 40,000 inmates from its prisons ran into sharp and skeptical questioning at the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
A majority of the justices said the state had failed to remedy the severe overcrowding problem, despite decades of lawsuits and promises from the governor’s office.
“How much longer do we have to wait — another 20 years?” asked Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was reacting to the state lawyer’s contention that it was “premature” for a three-judge panel to order the state to reduce its prison population by one-fourth in two years.
“At some point, the court [in California] has to say, ‘You have been given enough time…. It’s now time for a remedy,’ ” said Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who grew up in Sacramento. That “seems to me perfectly reasonable,” he said.
A note of local interest. A member of the team of attorneys in Washington right now representing the inmates in the suit is Rebbecca Evenson, daughter of Judy and Michael Evenson, who attended Skyfish and other local schools as a child.