SACRAMENTO, Calif. -

Gov. Jerry Brown is defending his approach to a legal battle over the state prison system by saying California has undergone an "incredible transformation" since the federal courts took over the prison health care system.

Brown spoke for the first time Monday since the state filed its plan last week to further reduce the prison population by another 7,000 inmates. But that plan still falls 2,300 inmates short of the court-mandated target.

Judges have said Brown could be held in contempt if his administration does not comply with its orders, and he has vowed an appeal.

The governor says California has spent billions on prison construction and hiring medical staff. He says he's presenting his case in a respectful way but finds "it rather mystifying why we're in this predicament."