California is preparing to issue good behavior early release credits for approximately 76,000 inmates, including tens of thousands who were convicted of violent crimes.
More than 63,000 inmates convicted of violent crimes will be eligible for good conduct credits that cut their sentences by a third from the fifth that had been in effect since 2017; that includes nearly 20,000 inmates who are serving life sentences with the possibility of parole.
In an effort to reduce the state’s massive prison population, more than 10,000 inmates who were convicted of a second felony, but a non-violent crime under the state’s “three strikes” law will be eligible for release after serving half their terms. sentences.
All minimum-security inmates in labor camps, including those in firefighting camps, will be eligible for the same previous month of release for each month they spend in the camp, regardless of the severity of their crime.
The new prison policies will go into effect on Saturday, “but it will be months or years before inmates are released sooner,” Fox News reported, adding: “Corrections officials say the goal is to reward inmates who better themselves while critics said the move will endanger the public.”
The changes were approved this week by the state Office of Administrative Law with little notice to the public because the new rules were labeled “emergency regulations.” For the changes to be permanent, they must be submitted next year and allow for a public hearing and comment.
Republican State Senator Jim Nielsen, who was previously the head of the state parole board, criticized Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration for instituting the new policy without consulting the public.
“He’s doing it on his own authority, instead of the will of the people through their elected representatives or directly through their own votes,” Nielsen said. “This is what I call Newsom’s time off for bad behavior. He’s putting us all at greater risk and there seems to be no end to the degree to which he wants to do that.”
The changes were approved this week by the state Office of Administrative Law.
“The goal is to increase incentives for the incarcerated population to practice good behavior and follow the rules while serving their time, and participate in rehabilitative and educational programs, which will lead to safer prisons,” department spokeswoman Dana Simas said in a statement. She then added that “Additionally, these changes would help to reduce the prison population by allowing incarcerated persons to earn their way home sooner.”
Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, takes a different view of early release credits.
“You don’t have to be good to get good time credits. People who lose good time credits for misconduct get them back, they don’t stay gone,” he said. “They could be a useful device for managing the population if they had more teeth in them. But they don’t. They’re in reality just a giveaway.”
Many Democratic lawmakers and advocacy groups have been calling for further releases or shorter sentences. Californians United for a Responsible Budget, for instance, earlier in April said the state should shutter at least 10 more of its 35 prisons.
ARTICLE SOURCE : TRENDINGPOLITICS.COM