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The Schwarzenegger administration on Tuesday asked the federal courts to delay an order requiring California to reduce its inmate population over the next two years.

Last month, a special three-judge panel gave California 45 days to decide how it will cut the number of inmates in its 33 adult prisons by more than 40,000, bringing the population to about 110,000. They found that reducing the number of inmates in California's 33 adult prisons was the only way to improve medical and mental health care, which the courts previously ruled was so poor it violated inmates' civil rights.

The administration maintains that the courts cannot order the state to release prisoners and plans to file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the administration wants the three-judge panel to stay its decision ordering the prisoner release. That motion was filed Tuesday with federal courts in Sacramento and San Francisco.

If the three California-based federal judges will not delay their order, Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said the administration will seek a stay from the nation's high court.


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