The California Prison Overcrowding Case

Monday, October 17, 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Rapaporte Treasure Hall, Goldfarb Library

In the Media

"Alumni win relief for Calif. prisoners," Victoria Aronson, October 21, 2011, The Hoot.

"Alumni describe prison lawsuit," Tate Herbert, October 18, 2011, The Justice.

"A Supreme Victory," Summer Issue, Brandeis Magazine.

"Partners in marriage, law win major high court case," David Nathan, May 26, 2011, BrandeisNOW.

About the California Overcrowding Prison Case

"Justices, 5-4, Tell California to Cut Prisoner Population," Adam Liptak, May 23, 2011, The New York Times.

"Supreme Court to hear California Prison overcrowding case," Warren Richey, June 14, 2010, The Christian Science Monitor.

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Watch Divided High Court Orders Calif. to Ease Overcrowding in Prisons on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Joshua A. Guberman Lecture

"Representing Prisoners with Serious
  Mental Illness Trapped in a Nightmare:
  The California Prison Overcrowding Case"

Husband-and-wife attorneys Michael Bien '77 and Jane Kahn '77, who led a legal team that won a landmark ruling earlier this year when the U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to reduce prison overcrowding, will speak at the annual Joshua A. Guberman Lecture on October 17 at Brandeis University.

The California Overcrowding Prison Case

On May 23, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to cut its prison population by 30,000 inmates to relieve overcrowding so severe that it constituted cruel and unusual punishment, the latest chapter in a 21-year legal odyssey.

Writing for the 5-4 majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy cited evidence from Bien and Kahn's two decades of litigation on behalf of a class of mentally ill prisoners of patients waiting up to a year for treatment, suicidal inmates being held for 24 hours in phone booth-size cages without toilets, waiting lists of 700 inmates for a single doctor, gyms converted into triple-bunked living quarters that breed disease, and violence victimizing guards and inmates alike.

Bien received the California Lawyer of the Year Award for constitutional law from California Lawyer magazine and a lifetime Public Service Award from Northwestern University School of Law, his alma mater. Kahn was featured in a major Human Rights Watch report on the treatment of mentally ill inmates in U.S. prisons. They were both honored by Public Justice as Trial Lawyer of the Year finalists. Bien and Kahn are attorneys at Rosen, Bien & Galvan in San Francisco.

Bien and Kahn will conduct a question-and-answer session following the lecture. Refreshments will be served.

The Joshua A. Guberman Lecture was established by his family to honor the late Boston attorney and social justice advocate. The lecture is coordinated by the Legal Studies Program and the Heller School for Social Policy and Management.

Cosponsors include the Brandeis Justice League, the Justice Brandeis Innocence Project at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, and the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life.