California officials announced they are giving 76,000 inmates early releases, including individuals convicted of violent and repeat felons, in an attempt to reduce the overwhelming number of incarcerations in prisons across the state.
Authorities will allow more than 63,000 inmates convicted of violent crimes to be qualified for good behavior credits. These points will reduce the total sentence for each individual by one-third instead of one-fifth which had been in effect since 2017.
Good Time Credits
The number includes more than 20,000 prisoners who have life sentences with the possibility of parole. Officials will implement the new rules starting on Saturday but they said it will not immediately result in the freeing of inmates. It would take months or years for the first prisoners affected by the new rules to be set free.
Corrections officials said the new rules aim to reward inmates who are working on becoming better people. However, critics said the new policy will only make the state more dangerous by letting criminals roam the streets.
More than 10,000 inmates convicted of a second serious but nonviolent offense under California’s “three strikes” law will be able to get out as soon as half of their supposed sentence under the new rules. It is a massive decrease in servitude compared to the current one-third of their sentence.
The corrections department also projected that nearly 2,900 nonviolent third strikers will be eligible for early releases. All minimum-security inmates in work camps, including the ones in firefighting camps, will become qualified for early release as of Saturday.
“The goal is to increase incentives for the incarcerated population to practice good behavior and follow the rules while serving their time and participate in rehabilitative and education programs, which will lead to safer prisons. Additionally, these changes would help to reduce the prison population by allowing incarcerated persons to earn their way home sooner,” said department spokeswoman Dana Simas.
The Legal Director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, Kent Scheidegger, said that it was a misguided thought that the points were based on good behavior.
“You don’t have to be good to get good time credits. People who lose good time credits for misconduct get them back, they don’t stay gone. They could be a useful device for managing the population if they had more teeth in them. But they don’t. They’re in reality just a giveaway,” Scheidegger said, ABC News reported.
“He’s doing it on his own authority, instead of the will of the people through their elected representatives or directly through their own votes. This is what I call Newsom’s time off for bad behavior. He’s putting us all at greater risk and there seems to be no end to the degree to which he wants to do that,” Republican State Senator Jim Nielsen said, criticizing California State Governor Gavin Newsom on the new rules.