Photo: Courtesy of Rebel Pundit
California prison officials mistakenly released an estimated 450 violent inmates as part of a new program designed to reduce overcrowding in state prisons, according to a new report from the California Inspector General’s office.The inmates were let out on unsupervised parole as part of a new program implemented in January 2010 to reduce the number of prisoners returning to state penitentiaries on technical parole violations. The program was only supposed to apply to low-risk inmates.
The violent offenders were released as a result of computer errors, according to the Inspector General’s review, which was released today. More than 1,000 other prisoners at high risk for drug and property crimes were also among the 10,134 former inmates placed on unsupervised parole.
The LAT reports that no attempt has been made to put any of the criminals back in prison or place them on supervised parole.
The inspector general report comes just days after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to reduce its 140,000+ inmate population by about 33,000.
To comply with the order, California Gov. Jerry Brown has a plan to shift housing and parole responsibilities for low-risk offenders to county jurisdictions. The inspector general’s report raises major concerns about whether the state can accurately identify those offenders.
The report found that the problems lie in the computer system that evaluates inmate risk levels. The computer program relies on the state’s Justice Department system, which tracks arrests but is missing conviction information for nearly half of California’s 16.4 million arrest records.
The inmate assessment program is also unable to access the inmates’ prison disciplinary history, so it cannot account for offenders determined to be high risk based on their behaviour in prison. That would presumably include any prison gang affiliations.
As California searches for a way to trim its prison population by tens of thousands of inmates, the inaccurate risk assessment system could pose a major threat to California’s communities and law enforcement. Last July, a parolee – who had been classified as a low-level offender and put in the unsupervised program – opened fire on two LAPD officers. The policemen fired back and killed him.
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