Robert Barnes of the Washington Post is reporting that a bitterly divided Supreme Court on Monday upheld a judicial order that could result in the release of nearly 40,000 prisoners from a California penal system so overcrowded that its conditions are, the court wrote, “incompatible with the concept of human dignity.”
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a California native, joined the court’s four consistent liberals in agreeing that, after nearly two decades of litigation, it is time for the courts to force the state to act.
Barnes reports, “The release of prisoners in large numbers — assuming the state finds no other way to comply with the order — is a matter of undoubted, grave concern,” Kennedy wrote. “Yet so too is the continuing injury and harm resulting from these serious constitutional violations.”
Justice Antonin Scalia signaled the extent of his disagreement with the decision by reading his dissent from the bench. He said the justices were affirming “perhaps the most radical injunction issued by a court in our nation’s history” and warned of “terrible things sure to happen as a consequence of this outrageous order.” He was joined in his biting dissent by Justice Clarence Thomas.
It’s no suprise that Thomas would side with Scalia on this decision. It is terrifying that this many inmates could be released to the public because of overcrowding as opposed to having been unjustly incarcerated. That means that inmates who have committed crimes will be on the streets, which Justice Samuel A. Alito wrote about in his dissent.
Overcrowded prisons create horrible conditions for the prisoners and guards from a safety and health perspective. Something has to be done, and the state of California has had two decades to address the issue but has failed to do so. Now society may suffer because of it.
Read more at the Washington Post.
In other news: Another NBA Gay Slur.