Inmate lawsuits cost Calif. $200M

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Gov Jerry Brown

Governor Jerry Brown (AP Photo)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown has begun aggressively challenging federal court oversight of California’s prison system by highlighting what he claims is a costly conflict of interest: The private law firms representing inmates and the judges’ own hand-picked authorities benefit financially by keeping the cases alive.

How much are they making?

A tally by The Associated Press, compiled from three state agencies, shows California taxpayers have spent $182 million for inmates’ attorneys and court-appointed authorities over the past 15 years. The total exceeds $200 million when the state’s own legal costs are added.

Inmates’ lawyers and the court-appointed authorities overseeing inmate medical and mental health say the system still has problems. They are motivated not by profit, they say, but by a desire to protect prisoners’ constitutional rights.

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