Has California fixed its prison system?

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Governor Jerry Brown, explaining his revised budget for California. Photo by Andrew Nixon.

Striking a defiant tone, this week Governor Jerry Brown said that California has solved its prison management problems, and that its time for the federal courts to end oversight of the state’s prison health care programs. The issue stems from concerns about severe overcrowding in state prisons, when California had an all-time high population of 170,000 inmates locked up in its 33 state prisons. To solve overcrowding, penal authorities transferred more than 40,000 non-violent inmates from state lockups to county jails, where many were then released back out into the community. Governor Brown says it’s time for that process to end. But critics say state prisons are still too crowded, and that there’s much more work to be done.

Here’s our story about Governor Brown’s announcement this week and a short history of what led up to it.