Calif. mulls more prison releases

Jan. 14, 2013 at 4:51 PM

SACRAMENTO, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- California prison reform advocates are calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to release more "low-risk" inmates and reduce overcrowding in the state's prison system.

Law enforcement types, however, note "low-risk" is a misleading term and only means convicts with certain traits such as good behavior or older prisoners are less likely to be convicted of another felony if released. That group would include infamous cult leader Charles Manson, who, due to his age (78), is a "low-risk" offender.

Brown recently ordered more than 40,000 inmates freed. Department of Corrections spokesman Terry Thornton said further releases, as are being sought in California courts, could put the public in danger, the San Francisco Chronicle said Sunday.

"It's ridiculous for the plaintiffs to say that ... the state can release some of them with no threat to public safety," Thornton said.

Emily Harris of Californians United for a Responsible Budget, said paying to keep aging prisoners who aren't likely to re-offend makes no fiscal sense.

"The emphasis needs to be on shifting resources away from locking up people to a social safety network" of support services, education and affordable housing that can lead to rehabilitation, Harris said.

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