Brown v. Plata, 563 U.S. 493 (May. 23, 2011)

In a 5-to-4 decision, the Court affirmed a remedial order issued by a three-judge court directing California to remedy ongoing constitutional violations involving prisoners with serious mental disorders and medical conditions primarily caused by prison overcrowding. The order below leaves the choice of means to reduce overcrowding to the discretion of state officials. But absent compliance through new construction, out-of-state transfers, or other means—or modification of the order upon a further showing by the State—California will be required to release some number of prisoners before their full sentences have been served. The Court held that the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 authorizes the relief afforded and that the court-mandated population limit is necessary to remedy the violation of prisoners’ constitutional rights.