State officials are vowing to fight any final decision that could put tens of thousands of prison inmates back on California's streets.

The promise comes after special panel of federal judges tentatively ruled yesterday that the state will have to release inmates to relieve overcrowding.

If the decision is finalized, it's estimated the state would have to reduce its prison population by somewhere between 36,000 to 57,000 inmates.

The San Francisco-based panel said it may hold more hearings before making the decision final.

The head of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation says the state will appeal any final prisoner release order to the U.S. Supreme Court.

State Attorney General Jerry Brown is also promising an appeal.