Thousands of Bunk Beds Removed From Overcrowded Prisons

BERKELEY (KCBS) — California prison officials took down 20,000 bunk beds that were crammed into prison gyms and day rooms to house inmates in illegally overcrowded prisons.

Though the state has a long way in meeting the federal court order that realigns state prisoners to county jails, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation did put out a video trumpeting the end of bunk-beds in common areas.

Attorney Rebekah Evenson from the Prison Law Office in Berkeley, which sued the state to reduce the overpopulation, called the crowded conditions a travesty.

“Prisoners died in those gyms and the guards didn’t even know about it, much less provide emergency care. It was simply too crowded. It was dangerous,” she said.

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

Evenson said the prisons are still 60 percent over capacity, even with 19,000 inmates realigned, and must cut another 17,000 by June 2013.

“It is certainly a significant step forward, but they have very far to go,” she said.

Evenson doubts the state will meet the federally ordered goal, and that the overcrowding problem is simply being transferred to the local level.

“The county jails were never built to house prisoners for the long term. Under realignment they will be housing prisoners for years now,” she said.

Her office is now suing some of the counties for overcrowding issues.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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