This is just the first step. Judges have ordered California to reduce its inmate population by 40,000 in the next couple of years. If they come even close to that, it will leave Texas (with only 60% of California's population) as the largest prison system in the country.
A new law aimed at reducing the state’s inmate population took effect yesterday and had an immediate effect in San Diego County, where about 260 nonviolent offenders were released.
The convicts here — all doing time for offenses such as drug possession or petty theft — were let go under a provision that forces local officials to retroactively recalculate how they shorten sentences for good behavior and other credits.
Local law enforcement and court officials reviewed the files of 1,600 inmates, including those in county jails, to determine who should get out early, said Lisa Rodriguez, a deputy district attorney. Those convicted of serious, violent or sex crimes aren’t eligible for the accelerated credits, Rodriguez said.
Statewide, corrections officials launched their plan to reduce the prison population by 6,500 inmates and save the state more than $100 million over the next year. They said some of the revamped program’s elements will cut down on recidivism and allow parole agents to focus attention on more dangerous former convicts.
See related Grits posts:
- States slashing spending costs, closing units
- Some states actually shutting down prison units
- Emptying prisons makes Wired magazine's 'Smart List'
- California must reduce inmate numbers to achieve budget savings
- California to release older inmates to reduce medical costs
- California's partisan prison meltdown: Why Texas didn't go there