The administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger lost its appeal (PDF) to have the U.S. Supreme Court to stop a federal order that would force California to release more than 40,000 prisoners to reduce overcrowding.

The release, which we told you previously was planned for Jan. 25, must go on, according to the court. However, a compromise proposal to reduce overcrowding without opening the state prisons' floodgates completely has been proposed, and the court stated that it expected another appeal on that matter, ostensibly before any prisoners are released.

The potential release has created a political and logistical nightmare for Sacramento and local police. New Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck said dealing with the influx of ex-cons would be one of his greatest challenges as the city's top cop.

The federal order came as the state's lock-ups were deemed to be inhumanely overcrowded, with poor medical treatment and facilities. A release of 40,000 inmates would add up to a little less than one fourth of the entire California prison population.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing rank-and-file cops, has railed against the release and supports Schwarzenegger's appeals, stating that, while some have argued only nonviolent offenders will see freedom, many of those convicts were allegedly violent suspects who saw charges reduced as a result of plea bargaining.

“The people being considered for release are convicted felons, many of whom have plea bargained their crimes down to lesser offenses,” stated union president Paul M. Weber. “A large number of them are parole violators – in other words, they are people who have already proven they cannot remain law abiding after being released from prison.”

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