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Los Angeles Faces Potential Early Release of Thousands of Inmates

On May 23rd of this year in Brown v. Plata, the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision written by Justice Kennedy upheld an order to release thousands of California prisoners. "The Supreme Court reasoned that since prisons had failed to provide adequate healthcare to some prisoners, and overcrowding in some prisons contributed to prison doctors' failure to provide adequate healthcare, the state prison system as a whole should be ordered to radically reduce its population of inmates."

To comply with the ruling in Brown, California has established a practice known as realignment, which is expected to send as many as 8,000 offenders who would normally go to state prisons into the L.A. County Jail system in the next year. As a result, Los Angeles County's jails could run out of space as early as next month, prompting officials to consider releasing potentially thousands of inmates awaiting trial.

In a post immediately after the ruling in Brown, PointofLaw.com featured a prediction by criminal justice expert Kent Scheidegger that "vast numbers of people who commit property crimes, such as car thieves, will no longer be imprisoned--so if you live in California, 'don't bother investing much in a car. It will be open season on cars given that car thieves ("nonviolent offenders") will never go to prison no matter how many times they are caught." Unfortunately, this latest news from Los Angeles confirms the consequences of the decision that Scheidegger anticipated .

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.