Patterico's Pontifications


L.A. Times: Judges Say California May Have to Reduce the Prison Population by Up to 57,000 Prison Inmates . . . But We at the L.A. Times Can’t Seem to Remember Who Appointed These Judges

Filed under: Crime,Economics,General,Humor — Patterico @ 12:03 am

The L.A. Times reports:

A panel of three federal judges, saying overcrowding in state prisons has deprived inmates of their right to adequate healthcare, tentatively ruled Monday that the state must reduce the population in those lockups by as many as 57,000 people.

The judges issued the decision after a trial in two long-running cases brought by inmates to protest the state of medical and mental healthcare in the prisons.

Although their order is not final, U.S. District Court Judges Thelton Henderson and Lawrence Karlton and 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt effectively told the state that it had lost the trial and would have to make dramatic changes in its prisons unless it could reach a settlement with inmates’ lawyers.

Wow. 57,000 fewer criminals in state prison. Now how could that possibly be a bad idea?

(Of course, the judges and newspaper editors hasten to tell you that prison officials need not release 57,000 inmates in order to reduce the prison population by 57,000 people. Instead of releasing 57,000 inmates, you could also reduce the number of people sent to prison — i.e. take people who would normally go to prison, and just not send them there. There! Aren’t you comforted?)

So these judges — Henderson, Karlton, and Reinhardt — who appointed them? Anyone know?

Not L.A. Times readers. They are never told.

And when I say never, man, I mean never.

As I said in December about a previous article on the same general topic:

For example, you’d never know by reading the article that all three judges were appointed by President Jimmy Carter.

Or that Lawrence Karlton is the same judge who ruled the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional — a decision that legal experts across the land derided as absurd. Or that Thelton Henderson is the judge who blocked Proposition 209, California’s anti-affirmative action proposition — a decision that was later reversed by the Ninth Circuit in a unanimous ruling. Or that Stephen Reinhardt is so pro-defense that (like Rose Bird) he has never met a death penalty case where he didn’t reverse the death verdict — in over 25 years as a federal judge.

Shocker, I know.

Brace yourselves, Californians.

61 Responses to “L.A. Times: Judges Say California May Have to Reduce the Prison Population by Up to 57,000 Prison Inmates . . . But We at the L.A. Times Can’t Seem to Remember Who Appointed These Judges”

  1. Send the prisoners to Gitmo. I hear they’ll have some room soon.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  2. Can’t the State (or losing party)request en banc review by the full circuit?

    Ed (52bb9a)

  3. So, we can let the criminals go to reduce the impact on the other criminals healthcare, but we can’t deport illegal immigrants to reduce their impact on law abiding citizens and legal immigrants access to healthcare. Gotcha.

    I am really glad I moved to Arizona. California has lost it.

    SGT Ted (c47cc2)

  4. Ahhh, those glorious golden salad days of the Carter Administration. When everything was going so well…I aways wax nostalgically that they would one day return…

    Joe (17aeff)

  5. Can we shorten the waiting period on death row? How many would that take care of?

    kaf (3e4877)

  6. I urge that you study the prison overcrowding era of Philadelphia. I lived through it.

    You are about to live in occupied territory.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  7. This is another proof in my point yesterday about the pretend media bias the conservatives like to complain about. We take a story, in this case about judges, then we pretend to be appalled by something inane that was left out of the story. Voila!

    Ed from PA (c313be)

  8. What, exactly, is this panel? Two District Court Judges and a 9th Circus judge? What is an appeals judge doing on a trial? And why is Jerry Brown talking about appealing to SCOTUS and not the 9th?

    Pablo (99243e)

  9. If we are really lucky, though I don’t wish harm to anyone, perhaps some of those 57K will live close to the judges and some chickens will come home to roost.

    GM Roper who wants DRJ back on Patterico's Pontifications (85dcd7)

  10. I see that the panel is pursuant to Section 2284, Title 28, but why?

    (a) A district court of three judges shall be convened when
    otherwise required by Act of Congress, or when an action is filed
    challenging the constitutionality of the apportionment of congressional
    districts or the apportionment of any statewide legislative body.

    Is there an Act of Congress that drives this?

    Pablo (99243e)

  11. I think everyone should just calm down and wait and see what the prisoner release environmental impact assessment says before just reacting.

    happyfeet (71f55e)

  12. EfPA: Would the LAT have mentioned it if a panel of judges all appointed by, say…Reagan, made a ruling that offended liberals? I’d bet the ranch that they would have, and done so very early in the article if not in the headline.

    Old Coot (who also wants DRJ back) (529757)

  13. Release these prisoners into the Judges’ gated communities. We’ll see just how overcrowded the prisons really are.

    PCD (7fe637)

  14. Future archaeologists will dig up artifacts in California and notice a strange phenomena:

    Private homes were fortified in the early 21st Century.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  15. Liberals always release prisoners (hardened criminals) in order to soften up the people for the revolution (create chaos in the streets and then let the revolutionaries take over). After destroying the Cali economy, the libs now want to destroy what’s left of civic culture by loosing felons on the streets. This is what Obama’s judicial picks will do as well.

    eaglewingz08 (c46606)

  16. EfP – Why is party ID only relevant when it is a Republican involved? Are you willfully obtuse, or aggressively ignorant?

    JD (815958)

  17. The bottom line is that if this comes to pass, many innocent people will be victimized. Undoubtedly people will lose their lives.

    Stan Switek (7cfd24)

  18. It’s easy: just string up some barbed wire around some big fields, throw in some Army surplus tents, drive stakes in the ground and shackle 57,000 of the worst to those on six-foor chains. Have guards with dogs walking the perimeter, and towers with machine guns. I’d suggest that the Mohave Desert would be a good location for this, so we wouldn’t have to worry about too many rain storms getting the poor dears wet. and, if a prisoner does escape, he’ll have a heck of a time making it out alive.

    The always helpful Dana (3e4784)

  19. I’m sure that all 60,000 inmates were doing years for first-time simple possession of the Mary Jane….

    /sarc off

    Techie (6b5d8d)

  20. Are you willfully obtuse, or aggressively ignorant?

    Can’t he be both?

    Dmac (49b16c)

  21. It’s a bad scene, for sure. Letting 57,000 felons out will get people murdered. That’s… bad. (BTW, fine host, Kevin Murphy beat you to this on the other side of the blog.)


    JRM (355c21)

  22. #19 Sarcasm noted. The libs sure like to quote that bit of misinformation don’t they? They keep saying it over and over hoping it will be come reality. Fact is simple possession of marijuana is an infraction. There is no jail time of any kind attached to infractions.

    Stan Switek (7cfd24)

  23. Patterico,

    I find it passing odd that you complain about the remedy without addressing whether the prisoners have a valid claim. If they do, you can’t very well complain when the courts force a solution that has greater social costs after the state government refused to comply with the financially costly alternative.

    Either the action has merit, in which case I would hope any judge would fashion a remedy to correct the issue, or the action lacks merit, in which case this panel and by extension the district court judge have gone far beyond their oaths.

    Since you choose to comment on how the LAT reports on the case rather than the case itself I have to wonder if you are just trying to find something to complain about without having anything substantive about the underlying claims to latch onto.

    Soronel Haetir (cabedb)

  24. It’s all so very familiar.

    Last year, the city’s judges were forced to release defendants in 15,000 cases. Thanks to the court order, the city now has 50,000 fugitives from justice—defendants who have been charged with a crime but do not even bother to show up for trial. Philadelphia police arrest the same criminals over and over again, only to see them immediately released. In the nine years since the order was approved by Judge Norma Shapiro, of the U.S. District Court, defendants released under federal court order have gone on to commit tens of thousands of crimes—including thousands of violent crimes such as murder, rape, and robbery.

    If this happens I have one piece of advice –

    Leave California.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  25. Soronel Haetir, as a citizen I have every right to complain that the innocent are not protected by our courts.

    The penalty does not match the crime. The citizens should not stand for this. I would call for massive civil disobedience.

    You have no idea what you are in for. No. Idea.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  26. Welcome to occupied California. Your streets will be owned by criminals. You will be totally helpless.

    You have no idea what it is like.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  27. What could possibly go wrong?

    Chris (b886a5)

  28. Comment by Amphipolis — 2/10/2009 @ 8:38 am

    Which still fails to address the underlying claim. Either the prisoners claim has merit or it doesn’t. Apparently building more capacity has already been rejected.

    We could, of course, get rid of the prohibitions on cruel and unusual punishments, but so long as it is there all violations should get remedied, whether by social cost, financial, or both.

    I see a lot of complaints about this case, just like the economy and in a lot of ways they are similar. The problems have been building for a long time and none of the potential solutions are very palettable.

    Soronel Haetir (cabedb)

  29. Can someone get behind the registration wall to read this article?

    Judge Karlton is quoted on the Philadelphia prison cap: This is your problem – what is the context?

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  30. Which in turn fails to address the claim of the citizens.

    The prisoners may have a claim. This remedy would be exponentially worse for everyone. Good intentions will not give me my neighborhood back. This is murder.

    There is no justification for taking this action. It would only make matters worse – as was the case in Philadelphia. It is a spiteful, meaningless, and homicidal idea that does not either punish the guilty or protect the innocent.

    It is judicially imposed lawlessness.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  31. Over at that Other Blog, my post *cough* last night *cough* has links to some other recent news items on this case. Apparently, prisoners have a constitutional right to bingo, among other things.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  32. Democrat Ed Rendell on the prison cap:

    “We will continue to vigorously contest the prison cap, which allows repeat offenders to prey on our citizens without fear of going to jail,” Rendell said as raucous applause from the audience erupted.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  33. A study found that 76 percent of all drug dealers in Philadelphia became fugitives within ninety days of their arrest, compared to only 26 percent nationally. Overall, the total number of fugitives in Philadelphia nearly tripled, rising from 18,000 to almost 50,000, the equivalent of an entire year’s worth of prosecutions.
    Max Boot, Out of Order

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  34. Man, if I drew a panel like those three, I wouldn’t even bother showing up.

    Attila (Pillage Idiot) (cb5f32)

  35. These guys are like the unholy trinity of liberal judges run amuck. The fact is that California has made improvements to its medical care for prisoners. There are also numerous other remedies that could be imposed other than releasing felons back onto the streets. But you won’t hear any of that from the LAT.

    Isn’t it time we contract with Sheriff Arpaio in Maricopa County to house prisoners?

    CStudent (557fcb)

  36. Comment by Old Coot (who also wants DRJ back) — 2/10/2009 @ 6:01 am

    Further proving the statement I made yesterday. This is all conjecture, which need not be proven. Brilliance! The liberal media bias legend (myth) lives on!

    Ed from PA (d99227)

  37. 35, you’d be better off with Sheriff Joe as Governor. Maybe he’d put the CA Legislature in a tent city, make them wear pink underwear, and limit them to bologna sandwiches for meals.

    PCD (7fe637)

  38. What do you expect with idiots running the judcial system

    [Eugene Volokh, October 12, 2007 at 6:58pm]
    Cruel and Unusual Punishment:
    Thomas v. Baca, 2007 WL 2758741 (C.D. Cal. Sept. 21), holds that the L.A. County Jail’s practice of having many inmates (pre-trial detainees and post-conviction prisoners) sleep on mattresses on the floor violates the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause (as to prisoners) and the Due Process Clause (as to detainees).

    tmac (f9e092)

  39. I don’t know. I’m starting to feel a little sympathy for these prisoners. They’re living with government health care, right? And so now they’ll be released early from prison just in time to get the incipient Obama Care. It’s damned-if-you-do-and-damned-if-you-don’t.

    Maybe we’ll all be better off in prison. Regular meals, plenty and often. No mortgage worries. Someone else to make decisions for you.

    Sounds like Socialism.

    Gesundheit (47b0b8)

  40. Madness, that should be resolved under Rule 7.62!

    AD (631e91)

  41. AD !!!!

    JD (341fdd)

  42. One good consequence of this, if implemented: we’ll see just how harmless all those “third strikers” who received life for kiting checks or spitting on the sidewalk as the third strike are.

    Ed (52bb9a)

  43. To be fair to Jimmy Carter and the L.A. Times (who would guess that those words would ever cross my fingertips), and to reference The Federalist Papers because they’re on my mind, but lifetime appointments, which is what I think we’re talking about here, tend to reduce, if not eliminate, the dependence of a judge on those who appointed her. That’s why Hamilton and Madison argued that it was safe for the Executive to have a hand in the appointment of members to the Judiciary.

    Without looking, I’d say it was Federalist #51.

    Fritz (aa1e97)

  44. TFP #51:

    In order to lay a due foundation for that separate and distinct exercise of the different powers of government, which to a certain extent is admitted on all hands to be essential to the preservation of liberty, it is evident that each department should have a will of its own; and consequently should be so constituted that the members of each should have as little agency as possible in the appointment of the members of the others. Were this principle rigorously adhered to, it would require that all the appointments for the supreme executive, legislative, and judiciary magistracies should be drawn from the same fountain of authority, the people, through channels having no communication whatever with one another. Perhaps such a plan of constructing the several departments would be less difficult in practice than it may in contemplation appear. Some difficulties, however, and some additional expense would attend the execution of it. Some deviations, therefore, from the principle must be admitted. In the constitution of the judiciary department in particular, it might be inexpedient to insist rigorously on the principle: first, because peculiar qualifications being essential in the members, the primary consideration ought to be to select that mode of choice which best secures these qualifications; secondly, because the permanent tenure by which the appointments are held in that department, must soon destroy all sense of dependence on the authority conferring them.

    Fritz (aa1e97)

  45. What do you think it would be like if shoplifting was legal?

    You are about to find out.

    Amphipolis (e6b868)

  46. If this comes to pass, my brother will likely be released from prison. It makes our entire family very unhappy because he belongs in prison. When he gets out along with his pals you better lock your doors & watch your backs. They will take full advantage of you if they get the chance.

    Hondo (7cfd24)

  47. Ed:

    One good consequence of this, if implemented: we’ll see just how harmless all those “third strikers” who received life for kiting checks or spitting on the sidewalk as the third strike are.

    I doubt there are any people in prison for spitting on the sidewalk, third strike law or not.

    Rob Crawford (b5d1c2)

  48. Soronel Haetir–

    The claim might have some merit, but this panel would find it does no matter what. Each of these judges has made a career of protecting criminals, or if you prefer, taking an extreme view of defendant’s rights.

    This is like three rabid libertarians determining that the state has exceeded its taxing authority and must return $100 billion forthwith. Maybe that’s true, too, but such a panel would be unconvincing.

    I will note that Jerry Brown, who is hardly anti-civil-liberty has taken the state’s side.

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  49. I don’t know much about the rest, but Lawrence Karlton is a POS!

    thebronze (cf52b9)

  50. The legislature might have wished to consider when it tripled sentences whether it might need to triple prison space. I would recommend DuPage County, Illinois’s jail for profit to send the prisoners but how would California pay the rent?

    nk (a12124)

  51. Yes Ca has a lot of people in jail. Crime rates have plummeted since three strikes was passed proving all the liberals wrong who said it would only cause more violent crime. It’s not easy to get sent to prison. My brother committed well over 50 burglaries before he was sent to state prison for the first time. That is a lot of victims.

    When he got out of the joint the first time, the family did everything to help him. He just went back to the same old life of crime. It’s an all too common story.

    Hondo (7cfd24)

  52. The idiocy of presidents or politicians like Jimmy Carter is a gift that keeps on giving, almost 40 years after his leaving office. And just imagine the stupidity that will be Obama’s legacy, judicial and otherwise, when the year 2037 comes around (God help us!).

    BTW, I wouldn’t mind seeing all those prisoners released just as long as they’re required to re-settle in neighborhoods in San Francisco, Berkeley, West Los Angeles or any of the various precincts loaded down with the limousine liberals who nurture irresponsible situations (“We vote for Democrats no matter what!!! Liberal politicians can do no wrong!!!”) in the first place. Better yet, I’d love to see a whole bunch of felons move in right next door to where the 3 federal judges live.

    Mark (411533)

  53. Maybe the judges are liberal idiots, but we’re America not Cambodia.

    The basic problem is that Californians don’t like paying for things. Not for electricity for their homes and not for safe streets.

    nk (a12124)

  54. #54 A proud liberal response…..

    Hondo (7cfd24)

  55. So? Deport 57K hey Deport more than that.

    Dan Kauffman (3c9c17)

  56. nk, Californian taxpayers are paying for an awesome government that solves tons of problems. They aren’t getting that, but they are paying enough money for one.

    I don’t understand why the judges couldn’t just issue a writ demanding whatever conditions they are wanting (bingo or mental health care) instead of demanding thousands of people who commit crimes to not serve their penalty. Well, I do understand, but I don’t like it.

    Joco (4cdfb7)

  57. The writing was on the wall when a receiver was appointed. A receiver for a prison system for crying out loud! The appointment of the three-judge panel was a blaring siren that the receivership had not succeeded and the Court was going to consider prisoner release.

    (There is a federal statute, intended to constrain federal courts in prisoners’ rights actions, which requires a three-judge panel for prisoner release orders. It also forbids the courts from ordering the real solution — “raise some taxes and build more prisons”.)

    nk (a12124)

  58. Paying No Attention To The Men Behind The Curtain…

    I’ve seen too much of this now, and I’ve learned there’s nothing mysterious going on. These people are just idiots.

    In Other Words (37d564)

  59. Questions on the Prison Panel…

    Patterico has more on the Henderson/Karlton/Reinhardt travesty on the main blog, along with links to earlier posts.  A few questions I’d like to see answered, though:
    1) How does a special panel of this sort get established?  Two district judges …

    The Jury Talks Back (e4ab32)

  60. […] In the article, the L.A. Times continues its longstanding tradition of failing to tell you who appointed the the judges who rendered this […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » Judges: California Must Form Plan to Release 43,000 Prisoners (e4ab32)

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