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.