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California Fights Court’s Prison Order

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal court order that California pay a $250 million "down payment" on an $8 billion prison medical system upgrade is barred by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Attorney General Jerry Brown says in an appeal to the 9th Circuit.

The payment would be the first installment of the $8 billion settlement in Plata v. Schwarzenegger, a 2002 class action in which a federal judge agreed with California inmates who called the state's inadequate medical care in prisons cruel and unusual punishment. The court ordered the state to overhaul its prison medical system.

However, "The Prison Litigation Reform Act absolutely bars district courts from ordering a state to fund construction of prisons against its will," Brown insists in his appeal. "This is particularly unacceptable at a time when California is facing a $25 billion deficit.

Brown also says that $8 billion is more than necessary. The Act says that any court-ordered prison funding plan must "extend no further than necessary to correct the violation of the Federal right."

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