California counties are confounding the state's court-ordered efforts to sharply reduce its inmate population by sending state prisons far more convicts than anticipated, including a record number of second-strikers.

The surge in offenders requiring state prison sentences is undermining Gov. Jerry Brown's 3-year-old realignment law that restructured California's criminal justice system to keep lower-level felons out of state prison cells as a solution to the state's prison crowding problem.

The law initially lowered the state prison population, but the number of inmates is on the rise again — led by a record increase in the number of second felony convictions for those who already had a prior conviction for a serious crime.

The trend is complicating the state's mandate to meet a prison population cap by February 2016.