Calif. Begins Early Release of Some Prisoners To Ease Overcrowding
California has begun the early release of nonviolent prisoners in an effort to comply with a court-mandated order to reduce state prison overcrowding, the Los Angeles Times reports (St. John, Los Angeles Times, 4/29).
In 2006, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson ruled that federal oversight of the state prison system was needed after determining that an average of one inmate per week died as a result of medical malpractice or neglect.
However, judges in February granted California two additional years to reduce the prison population, extending the deadline to Feb. 28, 2016. The judges said no additional delays will be granted.
Under the ruling, the state will not be allowed to increase the number of California inmates housed in out-of-state correctional facilities.
In response to the ruling, the state said it would work to reduce prison overcrowding over the next two years in part by:
- Making about 350 nonviolent second-offenders eligible for parole after half of their sentence is served;
- Releasing nearly 1,600 inmates who meet certain criteria, such as having medical problems or being at least 60 years old and having served 25 years or more of their sentence; and
- Accelerating good-time credits for nonviolent offenders (California Healthline, 2/11).
Details of Releases
The early releases began about two weeks ago, according to county probation officers, prison employees and inmates' attorneys. Inmates are being released days or weeks early by earning time off for rehabilitation efforts or good behavior, according to the Times.
According to the Times, more than 17,000 eventually could qualify for early release (Los Angeles Times, 4/29).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.