State prison officials hoped that 2,260 inmates would volunteer for the transfers, but the response was far less than they had hoped. Just 460 inmates took the offer. In response, Corrections Secretary James Tilton announced earlier this month that California will begin forcing transfers. The state hopes to move up to 5,000 inmates to private prisons in Arizona, Indiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Two state employee unions, including the one representing prison guards, challenged the order on two points. They said it violates the Emergency Powers Act and a provision in the state constitution that prohibits using private companies for jobs usually performed by state workers. Union attorney Gregg Adams said state law reserves emergency declarations for unforeseen disasters that overwhelm local authorities. It should not be used to address predictable situations such as crowding in prisons, he said. “It makes no sense to me that an illegality can be justified by a danger to the public,” he said. Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Gail Ohanesian said Schwarzenegger’s declaration might have overstepped state law but delayed a decision in the case. The judge said she will consider whether the public safety threat outweighs any harm to the unions. The prison guards and the Service Employees International Union filed suit in October, after the state entered no-bid contracts with two companies that operate private prisons. SACRAMENTO – Overcrowding is fueling violence inside California’s prisons and creating an atmosphere primed for a major riot, a state attorney said Friday during court arguments over Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decision to send prisoners to other states. As an example, Deputy Attorney General Vickie Whitney cited a Dec. 30 brawl by hundreds of inmates at the California Institution for Men in Chino that injured more than 50 inmates. “It’s because of very crowded situations, and it’s a miracle that something more dangerous hasn’t occurred that’s going to imperil not only correctional officers but inmates and the public,” Whitney told reporters after the court hearing. Severe overcrowding prompted Schwarzenegger to declare an emergency in October and order thousands of inmates to be transferred to private prisons in other states.