California prisons release inmates

In Local News, News

In a statewide effort to reduce budget spending, several state and county prisons have released 1,500 inmates, including 401 from Orange County prisons.

Under the new state law, that went into effect January 25, inmates are able to reduce their sentence by as much as half, replacing the one-third possible under previous guidelines.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation last year declaring severe overcrowding in California prisons, which posed a health and safety risk for the workers and inmates.

The ruling presented a way of implementing prison population reduction without affecting public safety by adopting a combination of parole reform and releasing low risk prisoners with short-term sentences and good time credits.

Despite growing concerns regarding inmates being released back into society early, some experts are reassuring students that there will be little impact on crime rates and the releases will significantly help with the California budget crisis.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown specified that inmates will start accruing good credits for positive behavior and completing other programs specifically for time served after January 25.

Overcrowded prisons and the resulting health risks were the main concern in passing the law, however due to unfortunate timing, it has become an issue of budget and public safety.

Cal State Fullerton Associate Professor of criminal justice Dr. Kevin Meehan said, “There are unconstitutional, illegal levels of healthcare. The court has tried to develop a method of reducing the problems. They need a plan for an early release.”

Addressing the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation around the time of the ruling, an expert panel projected that the early inmate release law is expected to save California between $803 and $906 million per year.

According to the California State Sheriff’s Association, 21 of the state’s 58 counties have started releasing inmates as of the first week of February.

Officials have also said the law would reduce the state prison population by 6,500 by releasing low risk offenders over the next year.

“It’s a part of a much larger, more comprehensive method of reducing prison population. It’s essentially a necessity,” Meehan said.

Meehan also pointed out that while doing anything with this large a number of people there can be one or more cases that can deviate from the norm and cause problems.

“I disagree with it (the law) because once they’re released, there’s going to be very little control over them,” said 20-year-old business major Rebecca Singer.

Public safety has become a prominent issue for the new law, resulting in a civil lawsuit recently filed by the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs. The deputies called the early releases a threat to the public and deputies. A judge denied a request for a temporary restraining order that would have prevented the early release of inmates.

In the wake of ongoing protests against fee increases and education budget cuts, Dr. Jarret Lovell, Cal State Fullerton associate professor of criminal justice, emphasized that many people are only looking at one side of the debate.

“It’s political posturing,” Lovell said. “If there are cuts to education, why not cuts to incarceration? They both are dealing with public safety.”

Campus safety and a potential rise in crime rates are some of the concerns for the student body and Fullerton community. Campus Police has said that the early inmate releases will not affect the university and that they will continue to proactively patrol the campus as usual.

Campus Police Lieutenant John Brockie said based on recidivism rates, which refers to a tendency to relapse into criminal behavior, the majority of inmates released early will commit another crime.

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  • Rich McKone

    It might help to understand what is going on if the writer knew any facts about the jail and prison systems. The 65,000 county jail bed shortage requires the early release of about 190,000 inmates annually.The real issue is the waste of billions resulting from a broken technical parole revocation system.

    Simply passing a law authorizing the State to contract with counties for parole supervision would increase discharges by about 65,000 annually. With courts handling technical parole violations, rather than the Board of Prison Terms, parole discharges would increase from 23% to the national average of 60%. Under the courts, felony probation discharge rates have not changed for the past 30 years. Savings would result from avoiding the $17,500 cost of a four month violation term. Because of the difference in supervision costs, with counties spending about $1,200 per probationer, the $7,278 parolee per capita cost would be an economic life-line to budget starved county probation. The independent Legislative Analysist(LAO)recommended such a program but what politican pays any atterntion to the LAO?

    Oregon and Minnesota have successfully contracted with counties for parole supervision since the 1970s. Although previous efforts to pass legislation authorizing the State to contract with counties for parole supervision have failed, maybe the deficit provides an opportunity to finally pass it.

  • PrisonMovement

    Big difference between County Jails & State Prisons…the author needs to do more homework and clean this article up…the title is very misleading ( not truthful at all) There have been NO MASS releases from any CA State Prison, only County Jails…..lets get it right, please!!

  • Michael Walther

    Rich McKone, thanks for adding additional clarity to the issue of corrections. California is between the proverbial “rock and hard place”. Needed reforms that can reduce recidivism and lower the crime rate takes not just money, scarce in these times, but courage to be smart on crime.

    New York, Texas and Nevada to name a few states, have all adopted pre and post release programs that have in some cases cut their recidivism rates in half. California’s recidivism rate is generally reported to be 70%, while the above mentioned states range from 29 to 31 percent. The Little Hoover Commission here in California has more than once advised the state that they are headed for a corrections disaster and the CDCR has ignored this panel of penology experts. So the major portion of blame is squarely on the shoulders of the administration.

    An early release without viable resources to assist success of those released is in itself insane. It has become clear that California is not serious in their desire to cut recidivism since they have cut nearly 50% of all rehab programs in the prisons. A 70% recidivism rate is not public safety.

    Most law enforcement agencies and most legislators scream, “The sky is falling” with the proposal of a few thousand early releases, yet they never mention the fact that the state prison system releases 140,000 prisoners every year and the combined 58 county jails release 216,000 inmates annually. So when they suggest a crime wave with the early release of a few thousand more inmates I say it is all smoke and mirrors.

    California needs to get smart on crime and invest in proven programs that other states have adopted. To win both economically and public safety wise, California must acknowledge that every successful parolee is a tax payer, not a tax taker.

  • 1union1

    It was a predictable crash, so much prison building by the Republican politicians who passed harsh laws in order to build the human bondage industry to the moon. Then there are the 4000 plus people who have died in the prisons in the past decade. Most of this is covered up because the media is restricted from being able to get information.

    What everyone should know is that there are 80,000 state inmates in for non-violent, technical parole violations. And all that fearmongering is done by people who feed off the human bondage industry. The recidivism rate for California is only high because we are the only state to re-arrest people for any minor reason whatsoever. Plus it is a law that people are forced back into the communities where they were originally arrested which results in revenge-based crimes.

    It’s a felony in CA to steal a watermelon out of a field, even when the crop is rotting. The sentencing laws must be changed in order to get law enforcement labor unions out of power over our lives and stop billions in waste.

    We cannot have too many research volunteers and people posting beneath articles at the news sites.

  • Pray4Peace

    Thanks to the earlier posters who are much better informed about the failing criminal justice and incarceration systems than the writer of this article. Quoting a business major who obviously knows little about the parole systems further diminishes the article’s value.

    The article at least touches on health and safety risks caused by the horrific conditions of California’s prisons so we can be glad it was published. Hopefully, Ms. Rayzoga will do her homework before writing future articles that concern real social problems.

  • Jeff Brockmeier

    CRJU 405, baby!

  • Rich McKone

    Few understand the reason for California’s artificially high technical violation rate – it is the county jail shortage and has nothing to do with parolee behavior. The 65,000 county bed shortage required the transfer of parole vilators from county jail to prison for revocation hearings rather than dealing with it at the parole unit level. The California new felony conviction rate mirrors national rates. Only the technical violation rate is incredibly high, adding billions to prison costs. Fix the revocation system and you would have a huge prison bed surplus.

  • shelly

    oh wat?!?!?! realeasing?!?!?! that’s baaaaadddd 🙁

  • sjfowjsdghsoghs

    oh dude… that’s reallyyy bad. I mean what if the prisoners do bad things again without thinking?!?! why??? *shakes head in a sad way*

  • AISHON

    LET THEM OUT HAVING THEM BEING LOCKED UP 4 YEAR FOR SOMETHING LIKE STEALING A CAR RADIO IS CRAZY SMH…

  • Megan daily

    Not that my comment matters, but I know people are locked up for YEARS on the smallest, lamest and most insignificant charges. There are plenty of non violent inmates who could be a great asset to our community as incoming tax-payers and everyone (just about) deserves a second chance. Release them!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Racheal

    I’m confused! I am just trying to find out if you have to serve a third of your sentence of half of you sentence in California prisons. So if someone could please tell me if you know??

  • Halogen Cooker ·

    when i bought a car radio, i picked the car radio that is built by philips because they are well built “*~

  • guadalupe

    I think state prisoners from other countries should be the ones being released, they have done hard time 15-20 years prison time. at an early age they have been convicted and never even given a second chance……………
    county jails are full and let loose. from experience my son was released with in 24 hrs. just because no wepond was found, but yet he tried to kill some one for shooting at him when he was in some one elses property…………..trying to steal there marijuana cultivation………Lol thats what I mean! the law is so scrude up!!!!!

  • Kitty

    I married my husband while he was incarserated, he dont belong there, he is ready to come home..
    for god sake , they made a 2 year sentince into an 11 year one.
    he is a good man and he works hard every day while being locked up, these prisons need to look at the history of these men for the past 2-3- years while they been locked up to see who has had good behavior and who is has not!!
    Not all me whom are locked up are bad !!
    ya know- some times it only takes 1 person in ones life to make a hugh difference!! And i made mine in his life…
    Please allow my husbnd to come home where he belongs, with his family…
    He has done his time, 4 times over, and is not getting rehibilitated inside, most men need to get rehibititated at home, not locked up..
    Concider reducing the sentences by at least 25% on good behavior…
    Thanks,
    Kitty

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