A federal judges' panel has ordered the state of California to slash its prison population by 40,000 inmates over the next two years, according to the Chron. The three-judge panel said that extreme overcrowding in California prisons has resulted in deplorable conditions and the deaths of inmates who are unable to obtain adequate health care. The judges' order is not that much different from a plan floated last month by Governor Schwarzenegger to save the state $1.2 billion by cutting the inmate population by about 27,000 during the same time frame. That plan nearly derailed the state's budget negotiations. Nonetheless, the governor says he plans to appeal the judges' ruling to the US Supreme Court, because he believes they overstepped their authority.