Editorial: The big prison duck

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California incarcerates 170,000 people in facilities designed for less than half that number.

EDITORIAL A panel of federal judges has ordered the release of 44,000 California prisoners, sending politicians of both parties scrambling for cover and throwing a crucial issue into the heart of the Democratic campaign for governor.

And so far, both major candidates are ducking, badly.

The state prison system is a mess; any sane person knows that. California incarcerates 170,000 people in facilities designed for less than half that number. Sick inmates don't get to see doctors; mentally ill or drug-addicted inmates often get no treatment at all. It's so bad that a federal monitor appointed by the courts has demanded that the state spend $8 billion building new medical facilities for prisoners.