ATLANTA (AP) -- The Supreme Court's decision ordering California to drastically reduce its prison population to relieve overcrowding could encourage some states with bloated corrections systems to overhaul tough-on-crime policies.
Advocates of sentencing reforms are already using the court's 5-4 ruling on Monday as an example of what could happen if states don't adopt alternative programs for those convicted of drug offenses and non-violent crimes.
An Ohio State University law professor says the ruling is an example of why the reforms are critical to stave off dramatic showdowns in court.
The Supreme Court's ruling concluded that the reduction was needed to correct sometimes deadly lapses in medical care that violated the ban on cruel and unusual punishment. California prison officials plan to divert some low-level offenders to local jails to comply with the order.
Bluestein can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/bluestein
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)