California to Free 9,500 Inmates Over the Next Four Years
State corrections officials announced a new set of guidelines Friday that are expected to reduce California’s prison population by 9,500. The new rules are part of an effort to reduce overcrowding under Proposition 57, which was approved by 64 percent of voters in November. Critics, however, say the changes are dangerous.
In addition to giving greater powers to the state parole board to grant early releases, Proposition 57 gives inmates new “credit-earning” opportunities to potentially reduce sentences. That’s what happening here. By participating in certain programs like self-help or parenting classes, inmates could see their sentences shaved for a month each year; those who earn a college degree could see their sentences reduced up to six months.
All inmates except those on death row and those serving life without parole are eligible under the new credit system. That means even violent offenders could receive 20% of time served.
“What about the victims, does anybody care about them because potentially there’s 9,500 victims that were involved in this. And also nobody’s got their voice,” said Craig Lally, director of the Los Angeles Police Protective League. “Why do you have to let them out early? They were supposed to do a sentence for a crime, for the bad actions that they did. And there’s no accountability.”
Two other criminal justice reform measures that were also aimed at reducing overcrowding have received widespread criticism in the aftermath of several officer deaths. In at least two of those cases, the shooter is said to have benefited from one or both of the laws: Public Safety Realignment, which was signed into law in 2011, and Proposition 47, which was approved by voters in 2014.
The latest changes must get final approval from state regulators after a public comment period. ABC 10 has more details here.