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date: 14 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

In 2011 the US Supreme Court declared healthcare in California’s prison system constitutionally inadequate under the Eighth Amendment and upheld an order to reduce the prison population by almost one- third. This article examines the initiation and trajectory of theBrown v. Platalitigation, California’s effort to “realign” state prisoners into county facilities, and recent legal challenges to conditions in jails.Platamust be understood not just as a symbolic critique of mass incarceration, but as an example of (a) the persistent power of administrative discretion and political resistance to reform and (b) the challenges of devolving punitive power to increasingly local decision-makers. Rather than reducing California’s reliance on mass incarceration,Platamay have simply initiated fragmentation of mass incarceration into local jails, which are both less visible and more resistant to federal judicial control than state prison systems.

Keywords: prison, Brown v. Plata, Eighth Amendment, healthcare, mass incarceration, jail, overcrowding

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