California Expands Early Release Eligibility For Up To 76,000 Inmates, Including Violent And Repeat Felons

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Elizabeth Weibel Contributor
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California announced Saturday that it’s expanding early release eligibility to roughly 76,000 inmates, including violent and repeat felons.

Out of the 76,000 inmates eligible for early release, 63,000 inmates who have been convicted of violent crimes will have their sentences shortened by one-third for good behavior, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Additionally, 20,000 of those inmates who are eligible for early release are currently serving life sentences with the possibility of parole. Around 10,000 of these inmates who have been convicted of “a second serious but nonviolent offense” will be eligible to receive early release from the state after serving half of their sentence under California’s “three strikes” law, according to AP.

Around 2,900 inmates who were previously convicted on non-violent crimes under the “three strikes” law will also be eligible to receive early release after serving half of their sentence, AP reported.

The changes, which go into effect on Saturday, were approved earlier in the week by the Office of Administrative Law as “emergency regulations,” and more permanent regulations will need to be submitted by the state Corrections Department next year, according to AP.

“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 educational programs, which will lead to safer prisons,” explained Dana Simas, a spokesperson for the Corrections Department, according to AP.

“Additionally, these changes would help to reduce the prison population by allowing incarcerated persons to earn their way home sooner,” Simas explained.

The announcement comes as a part of a continued effort to decrease the prison population in the state, of which California once had one of the largest in the nation, according to AP. (RELATED: Over 100 Released Rikers Inmates Already Arrested Again For New Crimes: Report)

In May 2020, inmates from a Los Angeles County prison were caught on tape trying to deliberately catch coronavirus by drinking from the same bottles and sharing face masks in order to be released from prison.

In July 2020, it was announced that 8,000 inmates would be released from prison amid the coronavirus pandemic in an effort to stop the spread of the virus in prisons, the Los Angeles Times reported.