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By Charlotte Young

Tackling inadequate conditions in California’s prisons has become an important legal, political and budget issue. One dilemma with the state’s prison system revolves around subpar medical and health care in overcrowded prisons, which is why the Supreme Court upheld an order today that the state must release about 40,000 inmates over the course of two years.

This is the largest prisoner release order to come from a federal court. Reuters reports that California has 33 adult prisons that were built to contain about 88,000 prisoners. They currently hold about 145,000 inmates. It was this prison overcrowding that led to the violation of prisoner constitutional rights.

The ruling by the Supreme Court involved two class-action lawsuits filed in 1990 and 2001 by inmates who protested the poor mental and medical healthcare of the prisons.

Justice Antonin Scalia calls this decision upheld by the Supreme Court “perhaps the most radical injunction issued by a court in our nation’s history.”

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