Judges deny California inmate release request, cite US law

Coronavirus

FILE – In this Jan. 14, 2009 file photo inmates use the recreation yard at Corcoran State Prison in Corcoran, Calif. California prison officials have halted an experiment aimed at trying to force warning prison gangs to get along with each other. Officials tell The Associated Press the temporary halt came after the inmates wound up brawling and even rioting after they were allowed to mingle together in prison recreation yards. The effort started more than a year ago with officials allowing prisoners from the different gangs into exercise yards to try to get them to interact and make peace. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File )

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Federal judges are refusing on procedural grounds to order California to free thousands of prisoners to ease crowded conditions that attorneys representing inmates likened to a “tinderbox” ready to ignite with the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

But the three judges on Saturday invited inmates’ attorneys to file a new motion with two individual judges who oversee major class-action lawsuits over inmate medical and mental health care.

Don Specter, one of the attorneys representing inmates, says they will refile the motion with the individual district court judges as soon as possible. State officials said they already have taken significant steps.

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