SACRAMENTO (CBS / AP) — California officials say they will seek to move thousands of inmates to private prisons in a last-ditch attempt to avoid releasing violent offenders to ease prison crowding.

Corrections Secretary Jeffrey Beard told The Associated Press on Monday that the state will take the step after the U.S. Supreme Court last week refused to delay a lower court order requiring California to free nearly 10,000 inmates.

Beard says the state will ask a lower federal court to permit the state to house at least 4,000 inmates in privately operated cells in California and other states.

Although it is expensive to do so, Beard says it’s a better option than freeing the inmates before they complete their full prison terms.

The state already houses nearly 9,000 inmates in private prisons in other states.

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