By Sam Stanton
California prison officials expect to fall just short of a court-ordered reduction in inmate populations by December, but say they will be in compliance by next June and do not expect to have to ask federal courts for more time to achieve a lower inmate population.
Papers filed today with a panel of three federal judges who have ordered the state to improve medical and mental health conditions inside California prisons say moves by Gov. Jerry Brown will substantially meet the court's requirements.
The state's inmate population is required to be at 167 percent of capacity by December, and prison officials said they expect to reduce populations by 9,200 inmates, or about 169 percent of capacity.
The court filing indicates that the next deadline the court imposed - having population at 155 percent of capacity by the end of June - will be met.
Prisons currently house about 144,000 inmates, or 180 percent of capacity.
The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year found that the state's prisons are dangerously overcrowded and upheld the three-judge panel's order that state officials address overpopulation. The court also noted that the state could ask for an extension of the deadlines as progress is made, and corrections officials said in their filing today they did not believe that would be necessary.
Much of the reduction in inmate population is expected to come from a plan to begin shifting low-level offenders and parole violators out of prisons and into the control of county jails beginning Oct. 1.