By: Daniel Newton,
California will start increasing early release credits for around 76,000 inmates, many of who were convicted of violent crimes, in a new push to reduce its prison population.
Out of 76,000 who will be eligible for early release, 63,000 were convicted of violent crimes, The Associated Press reported.
Inmates can now obtain good behavior credits that will “shorten their sentences by one-third instead of the one-fifth that had been in place since 2017.”
That number also includes 20,000 inmates sentenced to life sentences with the possibility of parole.
Over 10,000 inmates convicted of a second serious but nonviolent offenses will be eligible for release after serving half their sentences.
That is an increase from the current time-served credit of one-third of their sentence,” the AP noted.
Also, almost 2,900 nonviolent inmates imprisoned as part of the “three strikes” law will now be eligible for early release after just serving half their sentence.
“All minimum-security inmates in work camps, including those in firefighting camps, will be eligible for the same month of earlier release for every month they spend in the camp, regardless of the severity of their crime.”
California’s Office of Administrative Law approved the changes as “emergency regulations.”
However, permanent regulations will need to be submitted next year and allow for a public hearing and comment.
Dana Simas, the spokesperson for the Department, said:
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.”
“Additionally, these changes would help to reduce the prison population by allowing incarcerated persons to earn their way home sooner,” she added.
The legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, Kent Scheidegger, said the notion of credits for good behavior is misleading.
“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.”
California’s inmate population decreased by more than 21,000, mostly due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Before the pandemic, there were about 117,000 inmates in California prisons.
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