The problem of overcrowding in the California prison system is being monitored by the federal panel as a result of two class action lawsuits filed on behalf of California prisoners by the Prison Law Office [advocacy website]. In those two suits, Coleman v. Schwarzenegger and Plata v. Schwarzenegger [opinions, PDF], the US District Courts for the Eastern and Northern Districts of California, respectively, found that the overcrowding of the California prison system amounted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eight Amendment of the US Constitution. Henderson assumed oversight of the California prison health care system [JURIST report] in 2005. In July 2007, the court ordered the formation of a special three-judge panel to supervise and reduce California's prison population after finding that California's prison overcrowding was preventing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) [official website] from adequately providing mental health care. The receivership held by Kelso was designed to oversee the development of remedies for the systematic constitutional violation and to monitor implementation of court-approved remedies.
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