The U.S. Supreme court has agreed to hear an appeal of Schwarenegger v. Plata, where a three judge appellate panel found California to be denying prisoners adequate medical and mental health care, in violation of the “cruel and unusual punishment” provision of the U.S. Constitution. The Appellate panel ordered the State of California to reduce its prison population (now at approximately 150,000) by 40,000 prisoners, by December, 2011 (AP story).
In a similar vein, another recent news story told the sad tale of state’s reducing and in some cases eliminating prison based drug and other treatment/rehabilitation based programs (AP story). One can only hope that these programs are being cut back because of states’ intent to release drug dependent offenders, to be provided treatment and rehabilitation services in their communities. As unlikely as that may be, it will be incumbent on all to be vigilant and proactive in maintaining and expanding treatment both inside and outside of state prison walls.