Bluepoint daily market view – May 24, 2011
California prison break, 32,000 escape – have we gone mad? The Supreme Court ordered California on Monday to release tens of thousands of its prisoners to relieve overcrowding, saying that “needless suffering and death” had resulted from putting too many inmates into facilities that cannot hold them in decent conditions.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, speaking for the majority, said California’s prisons had “fallen short of minimum constitutional requirements” because of overcrowding. As many as 200 prisoners may live in gymnasium, he said, and as many as 54 prisoners share a single toilet. Kennedy insisted that the state had no choice but to release more prisoners. The justices, however, agreed that California officials should be given more time to make the needed reductions. In dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia called the ruling “staggering” and “absurd.”
State officials and lawyers for inmates differ over just how many prisoners will have to be released. In recent figures, the state said it had about 142,000 inmates behind bars, and the judges calculated the prison population would need to be reduced to about 110,000 to comply with constitutional standards.
It is unclear whether the current economic crisis has caused more criminals to be created, due to lack of jobs for these idle men. But it is clear that the economic crisis has created an economic budget disaster for the state of California to not be able to handle the prison population overload. Many states across the country are in similar situations. Including the emergency powers act in Michigan that was used to take over towns in financial trouble (i.e. Benton Harbor, MI). One does wonder just how far this social upheaval will continue until its starts effecting the psychology of the country and hence the economy in a very negative way.