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High court won’t stop California inmate reduction

SACRAMENTO — The state Supreme Court said Tuesday that it will not interfere with a previous order requiring California to cut its prison population by thousands of inmates, leaving Governor Jerry Brown with just one more chance to persuade a lower court to delay or stop the releases.

The justices did not comment on their order, which leaves in place the earlier ruling by a panel of three federal judges requiring California to reduce its prison population by an additional 9,600 inmates to improve medical and mental health treatment.

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‘‘They already lost once and the Supreme Court said you don’t get a second bite at the apple,’’ said Michael Bien, one of the attorneys representing inmates.

The decision came as state officials are in settlement talks with attorneys representing inmates. The state hopes to persuade the lower court judges that its latest plan will work.

Last month, Brown signed a bill allowing the state to spend $315 million this fiscal year to house thousands of inmates in private prisons and county jails unless the lower court delays its deadline for reducing the prison population.

If the court agrees to a three-year delay, the bill requires the state to spend part of the money on rehabilitation programs intended to reduce the inmate count over time.

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