MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- A judge ordered the state to start paying a fine unless officials drastically reduce a backlog of inmates in county jails within 45 days.
In his Friday ruling, Montgomery Circuit Judge William Shashy also found Gov. Don Siegelman's prison commissioner in civil contempt for failing to relieve the backlog.
Shashy said the proposed fine -- $26-per day for each state inmate in a county lockup longer than 30 days -- would take effect Sept. 3.
The judge said a plan by the governor to reduce the backlog by adding beds in some state prisons and expanding a program that allows inmates to live outside prisons while working could prompt him to reconsider the fine.
Shashy ruled in a lawsuit brought by county officials in their long-running battle with the state prison system over state inmates being left in county jails due to a lack of space.
The overcrowding is so severe that inmates in some jails have been sleeping on the floor.
Siegelman was vacationing and unavailable for comment. Neither his corrections commissioner, Mike Haley, nor department spokesman John Hamm was immediately available for comment.
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