Prison Overcrowding Essay

2453 Words 10 Pages
In 1994, the state of California followed the lead of Washington and signed a law that Californians know of as the three strikes law. With all the campaigning and publicity surrounding the law it was overwhelmingly welcomed into the legal system. The purpose of the law was to elongate the sentence of time spent in prison for repeat offenders, mainly focusing in violent or major crimes. As a result, the correction’s system has felt the effects of the law literally on prisons. Overcrowding prisons is a major problem in California and the state has a limited amount of time to correct the population reach in the California prisons.
Prison population has been an issue for every California governor office to face since the first prison in
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However, California judges were looking at the bigger picture and would foresee the negative effects and the stipulation of the law binding up the court system. The judges had a very limited amount of authority on sentencing anyone falling in the categories under the three strikes law. Convicted felons would spend a longer period of time in the prison. The state and voters created a problem California would have to deal with.
Decades later a closely divided Supreme Court cited "serious constitutional violations" in California's overcrowded prisons and ordered the state to abide by aggressive plans to fix the problem (Doyle, 2011).
In a decision closely watched by other states, the court concluded by 5-4 that the prison overcrowding violated constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment. Pointedly, the court rejected California's bid for more time and leeway.
"The violations have persisted for years," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority. "They remain uncorrected."
Now the California government has been under close watch by the entire nation to see how to solve this problem and keep within the laws set forth by the voters of California. After the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that California has to reduce its prison population to relieve overcrowding, a nightmare which has resulted from a string of poor political decisions, including "the passage of harsh mandatory minimum and three-strikes laws.'' Since 1994,…