The administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, yielding to a court order, has given a judicial panel a plan to reduce the number of state inmates by more than 40,000 within two years.
The plan, filed in federal courts in San Francisco and Sacramento, was the administration's second effort at responding to an Aug. 4 order by a three-judge panel to decrease the population of California's severely overcrowded prisons.
Matthew Cates, secretary of the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said, "We have thoroughly examined the court's concerns and believe that this plan represents the best option to meet the court's order."
In the Aug. 4 order, the panel said reducing the population of the state's adult prisons to 137.5 percent of capacity, or by about 40,000 inmates, was needed to correct "woefully and constitutionally inadequate" health care.
The 33 adult prisons now house 151,000 inmates in facilities built for 80,000.
The state's first response in September would have decreased the number by only 18,000. Last month, the panel rejected that proposal and ordered the administration to come up with a new plan or risk having the court develop and enforce its own plan.
The latest plan would meet the reduction goal with a combination of administrative changes in areas such as parole and changes in state law that would require either action by the Legislature or a court order.
The plan says that if the Legislature declines to amend a law, the federal court could order a waiver or circumvention of the law.