SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Federal judges agreed Tuesday to extend an end-of-year deadline for reducing California's prison population in hopes of finding a long-term solution to an overcrowding crisis that has forced the state to spend billions of dollars to improve inmate medical care.
The ruling granted at least a temporary victory to Gov. Jerry Brown and leading lawmakers of both parties. They had been fighting against an early release of inmates, saying it jeopardized public safety.
The panel of three federal judges granted the delay until Jan. 27 but said all parties must meet with a separate judge, who will make recommendations to the panel by Oct. 21.
The order was the latest development in a seven-year court case centered on inmate medical care. The judges said the one-month delay and mediation process are intended to "ensure a durable solution" to the legal battle that has reached the U.S. Supreme Court.
In June, the judges had ordered the state to reduce its prison population by an additional 9,600 inmates by year's end.
One of the lead attorneys representing inmates in the case said he was hopeful the process would lead to a lasting reduction and better health care for the state's inmate population.