This editorial appeared in The Sacramento Bee.
The wholly predictable outcome to California's refusal to address prison overcrowding has occurred.
A panel of three federal judges has tentatively ruled that the only remaining course to fix unconstitutional prison conditions is to reduce or limit the prison population.
California has reached this juncture because its political branches – the governor and Legislature – have utterly failed to come up with a solution.
This abdication of duty has thrown the responsibility for action onto the court system.
With their tentative ruling, the judges have given Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislators another chance to act. But don't hold your breath. The first words from the Schwarzenegger administration were that the state would appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court if the judges make their ruling final.
Rather than resorting to legal back flips, gyrations and contortions, Schwarzenegger and legislators should get down to real negotiations toward a settlement.
Schwarzenegger, you'll recall, declared a state of emergency in 2006 because of "severe overcrowding" in the prisons, which he said caused "substantial risk to the health and safety of the men and women who work inside these prisons and the inmates housed in them." As the judges point out, "The governor's declaration of the state of emergency remains in effect to this day."
To read the complete editorial, visit The Sacramento Bee.