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California challenges feds' inmate population cap

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Gov. Jerry Brown is challenging a federal court order that California further reduce its inmate population to improve prison conditions, reigniting a legal battle that already once reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

Complying with the court's June deadline for lowering the prison population would endanger public safety, Brown contends in court filings seeking to overturn the court's population cap.

The cap was imposed in 2009 after federal judges blamed crowding for causing conditions so dismal that they violated inmates' constitutional rights.

Court documents filed by the state overnight Monday say that prison conditions have vastly improved, making the judges' ruling no longer necessary.

The decision was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011, and so far the federal judges have said they will not consider raising the cap.

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