Inside California's overcrowded prisons
December 8th, 2010
05:41 PM ET

Inside California's overcrowded prisons

What used to be a gymnasium is now a housing unit for 150 inmates. Bunk beds are arranged in the center of the gym floor. Inmates have to turn sideways to walk between the bunks.

The gymnasium is one of two being used as housing units at the California State Prison in Los Angeles County. There are also two day rooms used for "nontraditional" beds at the facility. In all, there are about 450 inmates without cells.

The rest of the prison's 4,500 inmates share cells at a facility designed to hold 2,300. Corrections officer Lt. Michael Stratman says the prison is just under 200% capacity, which increases the potential for violence.

But that's not the basis of a U.S. Supreme Court case that may result in the high court forcing California to release 40,000 inmates to reduce crowding. The case is about health conditions.

Attorney Don Specter argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that with so many prisoners, there isn't adequate physical and mental health care and the inmates are living in less than humane conditions.

The high court is set to decide whether to uphold a lower court's decision forcing the reduction.

State Department of Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton said efforts have been made to reduce the prison population since its peak in 2007, mostly through parole. Thornton said the state doesn't need the high court's help reducing the number of prisoners.

CNN Radio's Jim Roope visited the California State Prison to see the conditions for himself.

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Filed under: California • Justice
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Daniel

    Why should the state of California build more prisons with federal money? The right-wing thugs in Washington have already found a better way to spend it,like these two unnecessary and useless wars over in Asia,military equipement and foreign aid! It looks like the authorities in Califonia will just have to turn loose convicted felons whether they like it or not!!!

    December 8, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Yep

    Excellent!! A prison is not supposed to be a resort hotel!

    December 8, 2010 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Cesar

    @Yep. Yes it is, if you are in Canada.

    December 8, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mmmmm

    Where are the animal lovers??? Humans are packed in a cage like sardines! It's cruel and inhumane treatment of human beings! It's not safe! It's not healthy! WHERE ARE THE OUTRAGED ANIMAL LOVERS??? WHERE THE ANIMAL LOVING, ATHEISTS??? shouldn't you be outraged...didn't you all say we are advanced apes??? Yoohoo, where are yoo-oo?

    December 8, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Cathleen Wildermuth

    I think that all the felons that are put in prison over an over for being a drug addict is a bunch of BLARNEY... I think the state should have a rehab just for parolees that are violators it would help them more than being in prison would!!!!

    December 8, 2010 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bob

    Look here Dummmmmmb.
    You are in the worst prison possible. The mind prison. Having shut your soul off from existence you have no perspective on the vastness of the universe. And on what it means to be part of it.

    December 8, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      LOL, too many m's Bob and next time capitalize....duMmmmmy!

      December 8, 2010 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. phil did you know?

    December 8, 2010 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. phil

    @mmmmm...laughing my buttocks off! That's the best one! Bravo! I wish it were mine.

    December 8, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. phil

    @Kathleen...enjoyed your post too. But what is a Wildermuth? Just wondering. If that's really your last name, I beg your pardon. (smile)

    December 8, 2010 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |

    why not put them to work on the farms that the illegals work on.. this will kill 2 problems. charge the farmers half the illegal rate of pay.

    December 8, 2010 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. freshin

    If you don't like the conditions then stay out of prison.

    December 8, 2010 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      So prisoners in prison should not be treated with must be one of those corrupt guards who's deaf, dumb, mute, and blind to everything except a bribe and a paycheck...

      December 8, 2010 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. tim

    Move ALL prisons in America to Death Valley. Provide housing with no A/C. Give them heaters for the winter (which they will never use), That is where the murder row guys can ALL stay.

    December 8, 2010 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jim Brieske

    Start cutting off body parts as punishment.
    Execute everyone on deathrow next week.
    Publicly execute one hour after the death penalty is given.
    These will decrease crime and the number of repeat offenders. It's pretty hard to steal something with only one hand or no hands. Now some will say, oh that's too strick. B.S.
    If you saw some of the horrorable acts being inflicted upon the innocent by these monsters and it is not decreasing then you would realize a new approach is needed to stop these evil pieces of garbage.
    Heck let me do it. I will kill everyone on deathrow in CA and go around chopping off body parts of other CA inmates.
    Space will be made available.

    December 9, 2010 at 4:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Texan

      I so agree with you Jim...would you please come to Texas and help us out with prisons and people on death row when you're done?

      December 9, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  14. meee

    40000 isnt bad let em go free

    December 9, 2010 at 6:03 am | Report abuse |
  15. Homer Simpson

    send them to cuba or haiti on a boat like castro did

    December 9, 2010 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
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