A federal judicial panel has ordered California to reduce its prison population by 40,000 to improve treatment of ailing and mentally ill inmates.
The three-judge panel ruled Tuesday that cutting the number of inmates is the only way to bring the system's medical care up to adequate standards. The number of inmates will have to be reduced from about 150,000 to 110,000 over two years.
Judges said the billions of dollars the state has spent on prisons have not kept inmates from dying regularly from suicides or medical neglect.
Tuesday's action formalized a tentative ruling by the panel in February and follows a federal court hearing that ended in January.
The Schwarzenegger administration said it would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.