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Calif. proposes cutting prison population

April 24, 2009 at 6:43 PM   |   Comments

SACRAMENTO, April 24 (UPI) -- California prison officials Friday unveiled a cost-cutting plan that would reduce the state's inmate population by 8,000 inmates by summer 2010.

The Sacramento Bee said the proposal would be based on changes in release criteria, the downgrading of some property crimes to misdemeanors and changes in the parole system that would result in fewer parolees being sent back to prison on technical violations.

Releases would be expedited through the expansion of good-behavior credits and by changing the dollar-value of property crimes, which would reclassify some felony thefts as misdemeanors.

Department of Corrections Secretary Matt Cate said easing parole rules would have the added benefit of reducing the workloads of state parole agents, which would allow them to spend more time monitoring the more-troublesome and serious-offender parolees.

The goal is to slash $400 million from the state's massive corrections budget as part of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's quest to close a $40 billion gap in the state's overall budget.

The plan would eliminate 150 jobs at the Department of Corrections headquarters in Sacramento and close one juvenile prison. There were no plans to lay off guards, which would face opposition from the politically powerful corrections officers' union as well as law-and-order legislators, the newspaper said.

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