SAN DIEGO, March 30 (UPI) -- A victims' rights group has sued to block a California law allowing release of 6,500 inmates before they finish their original sentences this year.
The legislation, signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to save the cash-strapped state $500 million, reduces the terms of some felons if they attend vocational classes or earn a high school equivalency diploma, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Crime Victims United said in its suit the law violates California's Proposition 9, which mandated a crackdown on early releases and established a list of victims' rights.
"This amendment incorporated into the constitution the public's right to prevent the early release of felons, adequate notice of the release to victims of those felons and funding of prisons adequately to protect the public," the lawsuit states.
Nina Salarno Ashford, a Crime Victims United board member, said the law would "jeopardize every citizen in the state of California."
But the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said the releases are legal and give "low-risk" inmates incentive to behave well, learn a skill and prepare for post-prison life.
"No serious or violent felons, no sex offenders and no gang members would be eligible for the new parole terms created by the law," said Gordon Hinkle, a prison system spokesman.