Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday asked a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court to excuse California from orders by a three-judge panel to reduce prison crowding by releasing 9,600 inmates.
The state argued that it needs time to appeal federal crowding orders and that to obey the orders would free thousands of inmates, “including violent and serious offenders,” according to the court filing.
It was filed with Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy as the circuit justice.
“We are confident that if the U.S. Supreme Court takes a look at the dramatic improvements in California’s prison system, the justices will find we are providing constitutional care,” said Deborah Hoffman, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
A panel of three federal judges who last month ordered Brown to release 9,600 state inmates or find another cure for overcrowding refused last week to delay their edict while the governor appeals their cap on the prison population to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The judges’ June 20 order, still in effect, requires the Brown administration to begin preparations for freeing inmates immediately unless it has another way to comply with the population limit.
“Because the court’s latest orders will require the release of inmates -- including those previously convicted of violent offenses and who thus pose a substantial risk of committing new and violent crimes -- Applicants and California’s public are exposed to an additional form of irreparable harm,” says Brown’s application for the stay.