SACRAMENTO, CA - A new state law will allow California to reduce its prison population by 6,500 inmates over the next year. The law would allow some low-risk inmates to leave prison early and help reduce prison overcrowding.
"It allows our parole agent case loads to be lower and for us to focus on the more dangerous, more serious parolees-at-large," said Gordon Hinkle, spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
The law expands early release credits for inmates who finish educational and vocational programs. It also stops state monitoring of low-level offenders after their release.
"To just release them out on the street without parole, without supervision, it's scary," said Maggie Elvey.
Elvey's husband was murdered in 1993 by two teens. Even though the law applies to low-risk inmates, Elvey said she's concerned about what could happen.
Crime victims' advocates worry about public safety.
"We are very concerned that this will increase crime and increase victimization," said Christine Ward, Executive Director of Crime Victim Action Alliance.
According to the governor's office, the changes would amount to a savings of nearly $500 million for the first year. Gov. Schwarzenegger signed the bill as part of last year's budget package.
by Suzanne Phan, firstname.lastname@example.org