Dispatches from the Creation Wars

As if it wasn’t obvious enough already that Justice Scalia was lying when he claimed that the recent Supreme Court ruling against California for inhumane conditions required the release of tens of thousands of prisoners, state prison officials announced that they would not release prisoners in order to comply with the ruling.

California officials said they won’t arbitrarily free 33,000 inmates and they will submit plans to the federal courts in two weeks specifying ways to remedy prison overcrowding under a U.S. Supreme Court order earlier this week.

“The goal is not to release anybody early,” said spokeswoman Terry Thornton of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. “Nobody wants to do that.”

“Nobody wants to open the door and let everyone out,” she added.


And Slate confirms that weight training has indeed been done away with for more than a decade in federal prisons and many states, including California.

Not anymore. It’s true that most state and federal prisons had extensive collections of free weights and weight machines through the 1980s, and that inmates could spend significant portions of their days bulking up. But that all changed around 20 years ago. As stories about prison gyms spread in popular culture, they became an increasing source of public concern. Some shared Scalia’s worry that muscle-bound ex-cons would be even more dangerous after their release, and legislators across the country responded. In 1996, an amendment to an appropriations bill expressly prohibited the federal Bureau of Prisons from purchasing “training equipment for boxing, wrestling, judo, karate, or other martial art, or any bodybuilding or weightlifting equipment of any sort.” Many states, including California, made the same decision, either by statute or policy.

So the obvious question: Will Scalia correct his written opinion?