Release the Prisoners

California has the opportunity to do the right thing. A three-judge panel has heard a case concerning the possible release of 52,000 state prisoners. Plaintiffs argue that the system provides inadequate medical and psychiatric care for its inmates. This is cruel and unusual, a violation of the Eighth Amendment, they say.

Taxpayers rightly resent the price tag of prison programs. But if the prisons cannot afford to care for their prisoners, we obviously have far too many.

Governor Schwarzenegger once vowed to reduce the prison population, and he ought to. Now is a good time to seriously reassess the whole system.