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California plans to release 76,000 prisoners early – including violent criminals



SACRAMENTO, Calif. – With a small notice, California on Saturday increased loans for the early release of 76,000 inmates, including violent and repeat offenders, as it further cuts the population of what was once the state’s largest correctional system.

More than 63,000 prisoners convicted of violent crimes will be able to receive credentials that reduce their sentences by a third instead of the fifth that has existed since 2017.

This includes nearly 20,000 prisoners serving life sentences with parole.

More than 10,000 prisoners convicted of a second serious but non-violent crime under the state law on the “three strikes”

; will be able to be released after serving half of their sentences. This is an increase over the current loan by one third of their sentence.

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The same extended release time will apply to nearly 2,900 nonviolent third attackers, the adjustment department predicts.

Also, from Saturday, all prisoners with minimal security in labor camps, including those in fire camps, will be entitled to the same month earlier release for each month spent in the camp, regardless of the gravity of their crime.

The changes were approved this week by the state administrative law service, with little public announcement. They were presented and approved within three weeks as emergency provisions.

Prisoners stand in front of San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, California, USA, on Tuesday, August 16, 2016 (Getty Images)

Prisoners stand in front of San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, California, USA, on Tuesday, August 16, 2016 (Getty Images)

“The goal is to increase incentives for incarcerated people to practice good behavior and follow the rules as they serve their time, and to participate in rehabilitation and education programs that will lead to safer prisons,” spokeswoman Dana said in a statement. Simas.

“In addition, these changes would help reduce the prison population by allowing inmates to get home earlier,” she said.

She provided emergency provisions and estimates of how many prisoners would be affected at the request of the Associated Press, but otherwise the department did not make a public announcement.

Kent Scheideger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which represents victims of crime, said the notion that loans are for good behavior is a misnomer.

“You don’t have to be good to get good time loans. People who lose good time loans for misconduct get them back, they don’t go missing,” he said. “They could be a useful device for managing the population if they have more teeth in them. But they don’t. In fact, they’re just a gift.”

“You don’t have to be good to get good time loans. … In fact, they’re just handing out.”

– Kent Scheideger, Legal Director, Criminal Justice Foundation, which represents victims of crime

In general, prisoners should not be released earlier, he said.

The prison population fell by more than 21,000 from approximately 117,000 in state prisons before the coronavirus pandemic, albeit in part because about 10,000 inmates were held temporarily in county jails.

In mid-April, officials announced they would close a second prison as a result of the declining population, fulfilling a promise by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsum.

The California Correctional Facility in Susanville will be closed until July 2022, while last fall officials announced that the Deuel professional institution in Tracy, east of San Francisco, would close by October this year.

The California Men's Prison Fence is visible on August 19, 2009 in Chino, California.  (Getty Images)

The California Men’s Prison Fence is visible on August 19, 2009 in Chino, California. (Getty Images)

But the population has been declining for a decade, beginning when the state began keeping lower-level criminals in county prisons instead of state prisons to ease overcrowding.

The trend continued when voters in 2014 reduced penalties for property and drug crimes and two years later approved early release for most prisoners.

Republican Sen. Jim Nilsson, who once headed the State Parole Board, criticized Newsom for the time, acting unilaterally.

“He does it from his power, instead of at the will of the people through their elected representatives or directly through his own votes,” Nielsen said. “I call Newsum’s free time bad behavior. He puts us all at greater risk, and there seems to be no end to the extent to which he wants to do so.”

“I call this Newsom break for bad behavior. It puts us all at greater risk.”

– Republic of Saint. Jim Nielsen

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Simas said the department gained power through the rule-making process. The emergency regulations come into force on Saturday, but the department must present permanent regulations next year, which will then be considered with a public hearing and an opportunity for public comment.

Newsom is facing a recall election this fall, driven in part by those embittered by its response to the pandemic, including extensive orders that have halted the economy for months.

But many Democratic MPs and advocacy groups are calling for further release or shorter sentences. For example, Californians united for a responsible budget, for example, said earlier in April that the state should close at least 10 more of its 35 prisons.


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