Jerry Brown


By Chris Megerian
October 15, 2013, 10:10 a.m.

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown’s attempt to convince the U.S. Supreme Court that California’s prison crisis is over stalled Tuesday when the justices refused to hear his appeal of court-ordered caps on the state’s prison population.

The decision means Brown may have to reduce that population by thousands of inmates by the end of January, the deadline set by a panel of three federal judges.

If that’s the case, the governor and lawmakers plan to rely heavily on housing inmates in private prisons, and a new contract was announced on Tuesday.

However, Brown administration officials are entering negotiations with lawyers for inmates to extend the deadline by three years, saying they could use the extra time to lower the prison population by expanding rehabilitation programs and reduce the number of former inmates returning to prison for new crimes.

Here’s a look at some of the key events in the long-running battle over prison overcrowding in California:

September 1995: Spurred by a class-action lawsuit, California’s prison mental health programs are placed under oversight of a special master. A federal judge criticizes state officials for their “recalcitrant refusal” to provide proper psychiatric care for inmates.

January 2002: Another class-action suit, alleging inadequate medical care in prisons because of overcrowding, is settled, with the state agreeing to overhaul its prison healthcare programs by 2008.

July 2005: A federal judge declares he will take control of the prison healthcare system. Control is transferred to a federal receiver in February 2006.

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