SHENZHEN, China - Gov. Jerry Brown said Tuesday his administration will prepare to release as many as 10,000 state prisoners if the state is unable to get out from under a court order demanding it reduce California's prison population.
Brown had said last week that he would not comply with the order "until the Supreme Court tells us that we're not on the right track," despite a federal court's threat to hold him and top prison officials in contempt of court.
"We certainly will appeal whatever we can appeal, and I think there is a lot of room there," the Democratic governor told reporters in Shenzhen, where he is concluding a week-long trade mission to China. "But at the same time, with the court threatening contempt at every level, when the Supreme Court gives these three judges the green light, then we have to do what they tell us, and we'll have a list of 9,000 or 10,000 of our finer inmates that will be ready for neighborhood visitations throughout California."
Brown said, "We're going to try to find the nicest of the nice, but I have to tell you, it's harder to get into prison now, there's not as many people hanging around."
A special, three-judge panel ordered the state in 2009 to reduce its prison population to improve health care conditions in the prison system, and U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton this month denied Brown's bid to move prison health care out from under federal control.
Brown has refused to decrease the prison population by the required 9,000 inmates to reach the court-ordered level.
PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown tours the Shenzhen, China, headquarters of BYD Co., an electric car maker, on Tuesday, April 16, 2013.