California Not Soon Likely to Free 40,000; Maybe 27,000

Despite all the hype over a federal judicial panel ruling ordering the State of California to come up with a plan to release over 40,000 inmates to slash prisons overcrowding, it’s unlikely to happen very fast, if at all. First of all, the state’s lawyers are mulling whether or not the court’s ruling to come up with a plan within 45 days can be appealed. If the state doesn’t appeal and doesn’t come up with a plan, or one not good enough, the court might mandate a release. But then there’s always the likelihood of appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. More delay.

What’s more likely to happen sooner than later, however, are the several ideas that the state had already proposed to lawmakers, with hopes of reducing 27,000 inmates, not to mention saving $1.2 billion. Here they are, according to a commentary by Michael B. Farrell appearing in the Christian Science Monitor:

• “Allow low-risk offenders to serve the remaining year of their sentence under house arrest.
• Limit parole supervision only to offenders who committed serious or violent crimes to reduce recidivism caused by parole violations.
• Reform sentencing guidelines for crimes associated with property theft, and raise the threshold from $400 to $2500.
• Give inmates the chance to receive credits toward their sentence if they participate in certain behavioral, educational, or rehabilitation programs.”

These ideas sound logical and probably effective. But are lawmakers really going to put their stamp of approval through legislation on them when voters are certain to hold them accountable? Not too likely, but possible.

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