THE DAILY BEAST:
Ordered to reduce the population of California’s overcrowded prisons, lawyers from then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office made the case that some non-violent offenders needed to stay incarcerated or else the prison system would lose a source of cheap labor.
In 2011, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Plata that California’s prisons were so overcrowded that they violated the Constitution’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. Three years later, in early 2014, the state was ordered to allow non-violent, second time offenders who have served half of their sentence to be eligible for parole.
By September 2014, plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit were back in court, accusing California of slow-walking the process, which lawyers for Harris’ office denied.
According to court filings, lawyers for the state said California met benchmarks, and argued that if certain potential parolees were given a faster track out of prison, it would negatively affect the prison’s labor programs, including one that allowed certain inmates to fight California’s wildfires for about $2 a day.