California prison officials have been ordered to implement a new parole determination process that would speed up the parole of non-violent second-strike inmates and minimum security prisoners.
The three federal judges overseeing the prison overcrowding case said Friday there is no reason prison authorities cannot adopt population reduction measures now that they promised in February to “immediately implement.”
The judges ordered that by January 15, 2015, the prison system implement 2-for-1 day credits for minimum custody inmates who are ineligible for fire camps and grant one-third credits to all non-violent second strike inmates – “including those with a prior sex offense” and implement new parole procedures for non-violent second-strikers by January 15.
Te new rules should determine which non-violent second-strike inmates are eligible for parole consideration once they have served half their sentence.
“The record conctains no evidence that defendants cannot implement the required parole process by that date, eleven months after they agreed to do so ‘promptly,’ and were ordered to do so ‘immediately,’” the panel said.
The judges ordered the state to report back describing the new parole process and number of inmates affected by December 1.
The order was signed by Judges Stephen Reinhardt of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Thelton Henderson of the Northern District Court and Kimberly Mueller of the Eastern District.
California’s 33 prisons have been operating under court-ordered receivership since 2006, when it was determined that overcrowding was a source of unconstitutionally inadequate health care for inmates. A special three-judge panel has been overseeing the state’s compliance with the orders to reduce overcrowding.
The judges have ordered that the prison population be lowered to 137.5 percent of its design capacity. At its worst, the prisons were nearly 200 percent of capacity with inmates sleeping in bunk beds three-tiers high and crammed into prison cafeterias, gyms and any space that could be found.
The state was ordered to bring the population down to just over 100,000 inmates by December 2013 but has been given a number of extensions.
Case: Plata v. Brown, No. 01-1351TEH