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Modifying the Plata Order

In Brown v. Plata, the California prisoner reduction case decided last year by the Supreme Court, the opinion said:

As the State makes further progress, the three-judge court should evaluate whether its order remains appropriate. If significant progress is made toward remedying the underlying constitutional violations, that progress may demonstrate that further population reductions are not necessary or are less urgent than previously believed. Were the State to make this showing, the three-judge court in the exercise of its discretion could consider whether it is appropriate to extend or modify this timeline.

Experience with the three-judge court's order may also lead the State to suggest other modifications. The three-judge court should give any such requests serious consideration. The three-judge court should also formulate its orders to allow the State and its officials the authority necessary to address contingencies that may arise during the remedial process.

These observations reflect the fact that the three-judge court's order, like all continuing equitable decrees, must remain open to appropriate modification.
So now, at last, the State is moving for a modification of the order.  Bob Egelko has this story in the SF Chron.  "Donald Specter, a lawyer for inmates who sued the prisons over their medical care in 2001, said the filing shows that California 'never intended to comply with the Supreme Court's order.' "

Talk about a sore winner.  Specter has gotten substantially what he wanted.  The ruse of the prison conditions suit has produced a major and disastrous change in California sentencing law, with large numbers of criminals who should be locked up being put on the street.  The price of this change is being paid and will continue to be paid in the blood of innocent people.  Now the State wants to reduce the population reduction by a mere 18% of the total, with at least some reduction in the resulting carnage, and Specter is huffing about noncompliance with the Supreme Court decision. 

Well, asking for a modification is compliance with what the high court said.  The reduction being asked is little and late, but at least it is something.

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