Court Calls

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Court Calls

James Carman

Two Supreme Court decisions.

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0m 53sec

In our Winter issue, Stanford’s Joan Petersilia noted that California built 21 new prisons between 1985 and 2005 and now spends about $50,000 per prisoner annually. Corrections consumes 10 percent of the state’s budget. Petersilia said there’s a growing bipartisan consensus that such trends cannot continue. On May 23, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed, ruling in Brown v. Plata that overcrowding in California’s prisons violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The ruling requires the state to reduce its prison population from 140,000 to 110,000, still more than a third over the system’s capacity.

This week, the Court is expected to rule in another case that resonates in our archives. At issue in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association is whether a state has the right to limit the sale of video games that contain content considered too violent, or whether such restrictions would be a violation of the game makers’ First Amendment protections on free speech. Chris Suellentrop, of Opinionator fame, asked “Are Video Games Evil?” in 2006.