The Supreme Court said Monday it will review whether California must cut its prison population by 40,000 inmates to improve medical and mental health care throughout the state's sprawling corrections system.
The justices agreed to hear the state's appeal of a court order to reduce its inmate population by December 2011. The state argues that a panel of three federal judges overstepped limits on its power to order changes in inmate rights cases.
California acknowledges its prisons are filled beyond their intended capacity, but says it has been making progress to improve health care for inmates. The case involves lawsuits that stretch back to 1990 and include repeated court findings of intolerable prison conditions that violate the Constitution.
The case will be argued in the court's next term, beginning in October.
The case is Schwarzenegger v. Plata, 09-1233.
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