SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court has cleared the way for the early release of nearly 10,000 California inmates by year's end.
A lower court had previously ordered the state to cut its prison population by nearly 8 percent to ease overcrowding it said amounted to to cruel and unusual punishment. The panel found inmates were needlessly dying and suffering because of inadequate medical and mental health care caused by overcrowding.
But Gov. Jerry Brown and other state officials warn the releases could cause a public safety crisis.
The president of the California Police Chiefs Association says the justices ignored efforts already underway to reduce prison populations and "chose instead to allow for the release of more felons into already overburdened communities."