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Inside California's overcrowded prisons

Last week, the Supreme Court of California ordered the state to release more than 30,000 inmates over the next two years or take other steps to ease overcrowding in its prisons to prevent "needless suffering and death." California's 33 adult prisons were designed to hold about 80,000 inmates and now have about 145,000. The United States has more than 2 million people in state and local prisons, and has long had the highest incarceration rate in the world. Reuters photographer Lucy Nicholson went inside the California Institution for Men state prison in Chino, Calif., for a day to document the conditions.


Inmate Bobby Cortez, 29, sits in a cage, one of many used for prisoners waiting for medical appointments, counselling, or permanent cells.


Inmate Joseph Erickson, 35, who was convicted of armed robbery, sorts prisoner clothes.


Inmates stand in a gymnasium where they are housed due to overcrowding.


An inmate reads a book in a gymnasium where they are housed.


Inmates Anthony Turner, 46, (R) and Daniel King, 23 stand in their cell.


Turner said he is serving 25 years to life for a three strikes offense.


An inmate's possessions are seen in his cell.


Inmates walk around an exercise yard.


An inmate's tattoos are seen behind the perimeter fence.


Inmates exercise.


An inmate talks on the phone in a gymnasium where he is housed due to overcrowding.


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These pictures do not reflect the topic - more a fascination the photographer has with the inmates' tatoos. Different angles of the photos could more adequately reflect the challenging conditions that would lead to the decision that was made. How disappointing, and poor use of multimedia resources. I almost wonder about a 'hidden agenda' being to lead us to think that things aren't that bad....when clearly they must be, or the decision wouldn't have been made.

I don't really care if they have no luxuries. They shouldn't get special treatment in jail. You don't want to live like that then don't do the crime. You want luxuries, then work for it like the rest of us do.

This is the future here in Canada unless we invest huge amounts of money in prison facilities. We are already running at the edge of capacity. Now, the government is about to increase — dramatically — both the number of people who go to prison and the length of their terms.

If you can't do the time, don't do the crime

Providing secure housing for prisoners is big business in the U.S.of A. More convicts more money for private enterprise.
3 strikes 25 to life. Steal a pizza, 3rd strike your gone. Has this helped to reduce crime in any way?

I am a Canadian in California! Tatooing is popular in California. My daughter’s boy friend is in college and has tattoos. He seems to be a mice fellow even though I do not like the tattoos. Those in prison most likely have some tattoos most of us would find offensive.

California’s prison population is too high for a number of reasons. First there is the 3 strikes law that puts three time felons in prison for an extended period. I agree with this law. Second we have very tough laws on the use of marijuana and other drugs. I do not agree with the second law.

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