The Social Cost of Brown v. Plata: $200 Million in Legal Fees

February 19th, 2013

After the Supreme Court decided Brown v. Plata, and ordered the release of tens of thousands of prisoners, I queried what the social cost of this decision would be.

Now, we have an estimate. Well at least for the “legal” aspects of this social cost:

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 payments cover a dozen lawsuits filed over the treatment of state prisoners, parolees and incarcerated juveniles, some of which have been settled.

The total exceeds $200 million when the state’s own legal costs are added.