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U.S. Supremes May Release California Prisoners

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U.S. Supremes May Release California Prisoners

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SAN QUENTIN, CA - MAY 15: A view of the California State Prison at San Quentin May 15, 2009 in San Quentin, California. In an effort to raise cash to help California's financial woes, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing to sell some well known State properties. The Los Angeles Coliseum, San Quentin State Prison, The Cow Palace and the Orange County fairgrounds are some of the properties that the governor has named. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Today, the state of California was in the U.S. Supreme Court, challenging a federal court order that says the state must release 25 percent of its prisoners (more than 40,000) over the next two years because of overcrowding. The overcrowding is so severe that, the federal courts have held that the constitutional rights of prisoners are being violated.

Early reports from today's hearing suggest that a majority of justices, in questioning, seemed inclined to uphold the order.

If they do, the state will see both releases -- and thousands of additional transfers to other states (a subject of an excellent story in today's San Francisco Chronicle). And politicians will breathe a sigh of relief, since they'll be able to blame the Supreme Court if any of those released commit more crimes.

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