Non-violent inmates eligible for early release

In Local News, News

A new state policy that allows non-violent criminals to be released early from jail has already released about 1,500 inmates statewide – over 400 in Orange County alone – since the law went into effect on Jan. 25.

This policy was created in order to downsize the massive amount of inmates the state currently has in its prison system – over 170,000, according to California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office.

“In the ’90s, the prison population expanded despite the fact that crime rates went down.” said professor of U.S. and Calif. history Volker Janssen, an expert on the history of prisons and penology.

Janssen said that the current overload of prisoners in California has nothing to do with rising crime rates but because politicians, trying to win the public’s favor, began to take a hard on crime stance leading to tougher sentencing.

The fact that the outflow of prisons has been consistently slower than the intake has caused the state’s prison system to be in violation of federal minimal standards for prisons, Janssen said.

“To save money, I think this is a good idea,” said Hailey Talamantes, an 18-year-old business and marketing major. “That money could be used more wisely, like towards schools.”

Talamantes expressed some anger at the rise in tuition combined with the furlough days that she believes are cutting into her education.

“Jail space should be used for more serious crimes,” said Talamantes

Even with the projected 15,000 inmates that could be released in the next 18 months, according to MSNBC, Talamantes doesn’t feel that her safety is at risk because they are non-violent criminals.

Many criminals released under this legislation will not turn back to crime, but some will. Those few will be the ones who will cause problems for this legislation, Janssen said.

The idea has kept many politicians from advocating this type of legislation in the past, Janssen said. But under the added pressure of the federal suit and crippling budget, a law was passed.

“This is a good excuse for politicians,” said Virginia Valverde, a 28-year-old psychology major. “It’s not that they want to, but because they have to.”

Valverde also believes that this new law, that provides a lesser punishment for drug use since it is a non-violent crime, will not result in the rise of drug use.

People do drugs not thinking that they will go to jail, it’s more of a compulsive act, Valverde said.

One effect that this legislation will have on the state and individual cities is the influx of virtually unemployable people that the prisons will be releasing, Janssen said.

“You can release these ex-prisoners,” said Janssen, “but it won’t solve the problem.”

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  • David G.

    What I would like to know is HOW a tentative ruling on prison overcrowding is unconstitutional turned into a budget-cutting issue.

    Another thing the article failed to do is point out how much the state would really be saving. I mean, if it’s being made a big deal, there should be numbers supporting the new state policy. How do we know if this really is a cost-cutting measure compared to cutting school funding and social programs.

    Good article, but barely scrapes the surface of the real issues at hand.

  • Nora Weber

    School funding is cut to promote “prison industry” in California.

    Twenty years in prison for a motorcycle wreck is crazy at the expense of taxpayers and the cutting of school funding.

    My son is in a wheelchair dying from out of control diabetes, blind and now has a bone infection of Osteomylitis. Will the prison release him so I can bring him home and pay for his care? NO They want to employ prison guards and prison staff, build more prison, and have a stronger prison guard union, to get more politicians elected who believe as they do. They keep packing the prisons with human bodies that could be housed either in their homes or in long term care facilities.

    School funding is being cut for one reason and that is promote the agenda of a prison industry in California.

  • Paul Johnson

    The CCPOA (California Prison Guard Labor Union) and LAPPL (LAPD Labor Union) will lobby to the end to increase their union size and dues paid to the union with our taxpayer money. They do not care about public safety in this fight as they would rather push the parole violation returns which account for most of the 70% recidivism rate among paroling prisoner. If they would stick to aggressively prosecuting new crimes and not technical parole violations we would be safer with a lower prison population and lower taxes. Maybe then we could spend the money on the education that will prevent many from becoming desperate due to the lack of a good paying job. If people could only wake up see through the CCPOA LAPPL scare tactics.

  • Audrey H.

    What about the Three-strike Law,regarding early prisoners release credits. Do you know they will only be given credit from the date of the new LAW not retro back credits from time served. BUT, they will go back as far as the 1960’s and pick up a teenage crime and give an inmate a strike for that crime, even tho the 3 strikes law had not been in effect yet. CDCR I thought you didn’t do RETRO. Those crimes before the 3 strike Law should not be picked up from 20 plus years ago!

  • silencedogood

    California is too soft on crime. We need to lock up these doctors selling bs marijuana prescriptions. Lock up these illegals until they are deported. We need to have open season on these people going around and spray painting their chickenscratch all over everything. What’s with that anyways? I’ve lived all over the US and never seen such a thing. It’s not race. The mexicans in Virginia don’t spraypaint everything. Also Audrey, if your friends can’t get their life together after being in jail TWICE, then they don’t need a third chance. Also why doesn’t California execute people??? There are tons of murderers and serial killers taking up space in our jails. We could start executing them at a pace that makes Texas blush and get rid of alot of inmates that way.

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