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“Our prison system is in desperate need of repair, and the transferring of inmates out of state is a prudent alternative to the risk of court-ordered early release of felons,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement. “Public safety and the interest of all Californians should prevail and this challenge to sound public policy must be defeated.” Schwarzenegger, who called Ohanesian’s decision a “disappointing ruling,” maintained that his proclamation “complied fully” with the state’s Emergency Services Act. But Ohanesian, who wrote that prison overcrowding was “a crisis creating conditions of extreme peril,” stated that the act, which is most commonly used before and after a natural disaster, is intended to allow a governor to quickly get involved in providing assistance for a local emergency. The emergency in question, she wrote, is due to circumstances ordinarily under the control of the state government, “namely, the lack of sufficient prison facilities to keep pace with the growing number of people sentenced to prison.” In other words, the act doesn’t apply to prison overcrowding. SACRAMENTO – A major piece of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s solution to relieve prison overcrowding was rejected Tuesday by a judge who ruled that the governor’s decision to ship inmates out of state exceeds his authority. Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Gail D. Ohanesian said Schwarzenegger’s Oct. 4 Prison Overcrowding State of Emergency declaration was “unlawful,” and that the state is not allowed to contract for services that are usually performed by civil-service employees within California. The ruling comes as the prison population surges to dangerously high levels and Schwarzenegger and the Legislature scramble for solutions before the federal court decides whether inmates should be released before completing their sentences. The Schwarzenegger administration has already sent some 400 inmates who volunteered to go out of state and wants an additional 5,000 to be sent against their will. Schwarzenegger vowed to appeal the judge’s decision. “Many, many states are leery of providing governors and executives unchecked power to do things,” said Bruce Bikle, an assistant professor of criminal justice at California State University, Sacramento, and a former jail administrator in Santa Clara County. “The judge gave the governor a civics lesson today.” Some 174,000 inmates are jammed into California’s 33 prisons, some of which house inmates in gyms where bunks are triple-stacked. The contracts recently signed with out-of-state prisons also would have saved the state an estimated $8 per inmate per day. The legal challenge was initiated by the powerful prison guards union, known as the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, and the Service Employees International Union, which sued the Schwarzenegger administration demanding that the court halt the transfer of inmates. [email protected] (916) 441-4651160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!