The American Bar Association is urging the Supreme Court of the United States, when considering a California prison population reduction order, to consider the deleterious effects of prison overcrowding on the medical and mental health of those who are incarcerated. The association also offers some cost-effective ways to reduce prison populations without unduly jeopardizing public safety or the operation of a jurisdiction’s criminal justice system.

In its amicus brief in Plata v. Schwarzenegger and Coleman v. Schwarzenegger, filed late today, the association discusses alternatives to incarceration, as well as parole, probation and reentry policies aimed at reducing recidivism. In doing so, the association cites the ABA Standards for Criminal Justice and the reports of the ABA Kennedy Commission and the ABA Commission on Effective Criminal Sanctions.

In the present case, the ABA asks that the lower court’s prison population order be affirmed because the order appropriately left to California and its prison administrators the discretion to determine the methods to be used, while mandating that those methods result in constitutionally required conditions for prison inmates and be consistent with public safety.

With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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