The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the state's appeal Tuesday morning as lacking jurisdiction.
That leaves in place a January 2014 deadline requiring the state to reduce its prison population to a threshold set by three federal judges.
"The Supreme Court’s Order dismissing California’s latest appeal of the 3 Judge Court’s Orders is a strong affirmation and message to the State: Your prisons are still dangerous and broken," says plaintiffs' attorney Michael Bien in a statement.
Corrections officials and inmates' attorneys are currently taking part in court-ordered discussions on how the state can comply. They're looking at how California could take long-term actions to rehabilitate prisoners instead of increasing capacity by contracting with private and out-of-state facilities.