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The Sacramento County Superior Court Tuesday struck down a plan by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to transfer prisoners to private out-of-state facilities in order to reduce prison overcrowding. The ruling by Judge Gail Ohanesian held that an emergency declaration issued by Schwarzenegger in October violated the California Emergency Services Act and the state constitution, which prohibits contracting with private companies to perform jobs usually held by state workers. Schwarzenegger announced his intent to appeal what he called the "disappointing ruling," warning that it could cause some prisoners to be released prematurely.

California has an estimated 174,000 prisoners held in facilities designed for 100,000. Last year, a federal judge ordered California to solve the crowding problem, vowing to release prisoners early if an adequate solution was not reached. Schwarzenegger issued the emergency proclamation in response. The California Department of Corrections began out-of-state transfers in November.


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