California gives 76,000 inmates, mostly violent criminals, chance for earlier release amid prison population cuts – media

More than 60,000 violent criminals at San Quentin and other California prisons will have a chance for earlier release under new rules increasing credits for good behavior. © Reuters / Stephen Lam

California is said to be setting the stage for the early release of as many as 76,000 prison inmates, including 63,000 who were convicted of violent crimes, as Governor Gavin Newsom furthers his efforts to reduce incarceration.

The sudden rules change went into effect on Saturday after being approved by California’s Office of Administrative Law on Thursday, giving prisoners increased early-release credits for good behavior. Among those affected are 20,000 inmates whose crimes were so severe that they were sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. Figures on the affected prisoners were provided to Associated Press by a California Department of Corrections spokesperson.

The lifers and others violent convicts will be able to earn credits that shorten their sentences by one-third, rather than the previous standard of one-fifth. The releases are expected to be played out in the coming months and years as sentences end earlier in a state that’s already gripped by rising violent crime. For instance, homicides in Los Angeles jumped 38% last year to 349, the highest level in more than a decade, and are on pace in 2021 to surge a further 200%.

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