With 143,000 people behind bars, California is suffering from a chronic problem of overcrowding. Today in the U.S. State prisons show the double occupancy rate expected. May 23, the U.S. Supreme Court has ordered to reduce to 110,000 the number of prisoners within two years. The court took the view that the State did not meet the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution guaranteeing humane treatment of prisoners.
Each week, a prisoner dies in jail in California. It’s twice as much as the rest of the country’s prisons. The court held that the suicidal are kept in “cages the size of a telephone terminal with no toilets.” Other failure: the use of gymnasiums, classrooms and even showers in prisons to house prisoners crammed into bunk beds in three levels. Impossible in these conditions, to ensure adequate care, especially for prisoners with mental disorders.
The recurrence rate HIGHEST IN THE COUNTRY
U.S. Supreme Court has suggested an alternative: build new prisons. But that seems highly unlikely due to the budget crisis is going through California. The state already spends $ 1 billion (690 million) each year on its prisons, a record.
The reasons for this are multiple overpopulation. First is extremely punitive laws passed in the 1990s, as the three strikes law, which provides a minimum sentence of twenty-five years for repeat offenders after three convictions for serious crimes. A law that was intended to deter repeat offenders, but which had the effect of exploding the number of prisoners. With seven out of ten former prisoners returning to jail within three years, the recidivism rate in California is one of the highest in the country.
Critics of the Three Strikes law believe that the focus should be on parole, while remaining adamant about the recurrence. It is also recommended to ensure better care for inmates leaving prison, helping them find a job for example. But the unemployment rate in California, amounting to nearly 12%, will complicate the reintegration of thousands of prisoners.