SACRAMENTO, CA - This week, the California Department of Corrections of Rehabilitation will begin reviewing the files of more than 9,000 parole violators who have outstanding warrants for their arrest.
Typically when inmates are released from state prison, they're required to report to a parole officer for a few years. When they don't check-in or disappear, an arrest warrant is issued.
It's too early to tell, but the review could lead to thousands of non-violent offenders having their warrants dropped and consequently released from state supervision.
On the surface, the move is being applauded by the Americans Civil Liberties Union.
"California still lives on a fiscal cliff, and these dollars that could be better spent on education or social services," said Kimberly Horiuchi with the ACLU. "We've got to get smart on crime and focus on cost-effective proposa l[s] that will continue to keep our society safe."
The process is expected to take eight months, weeding out cases that are years old or deleting parolees no one's looking for.
Convicted sex offenders would not be eligible to have their warrants removed.
The purge is in response to a hand-over next July when county courts will take over parole revocation cases. This is an opportunity to reduce the locals' caseload and focus on those who do pose a threat to society.
"It's exactly getting them off the hook," said Nina Salarno Ashford, spokeswoman for Crime Victims United.
Crime victims groups are livid. They say there's no such thing as a non-violent state parolee.
"Not violent in California is a very narrow category. We need to understand even domestic violence, voluntary manslaughter, child abuse and elder abuse does not qualify as violent," said Salarno Ashford.
Critics also point out eliminating the warrants and removing felons from parole takes away an important law enforcement tool that allows officers to search parolees at any time.
Once this review is complete, the corrections department may look at the outstanding warrants against parolees who have committed serious and violence crimes.