California state officials have made more than 63,000 felons convicted of violent crimes eligible for early prison release, including almost 20,000 convicts who are serving life sentences.
As part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) promise to empty the state’s prisons, the Office of Administrative Law approved making a total of 76,000 convicts in California jails and prisons eligible for early release, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Of those 76,000 eligible convicts, more than 63,000 are locked up for violent crimes — including close to 20,000 who are serving life sentences with the possibility of parole. The new plan will allow eligible convicts to shorten their prison sentences by one-third with “good behavior credits,” according to the AP.
About 10,000 convicts in prison for their second nonviolent conviction will be able to get early release after only serving half of their sentence. Another 2,900 convicts in prison for their third nonviolent conviction will be able to get early release after serving half their sentence.
In a statement to the AP, State Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-CA), former head of the state’s parole board, said the move will result in more crime.
“[Newsom’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,” Nielsen told the AP. “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.”
Last year, Newsom vowed to release nearly 18,000 convicts from California jails and prisons — including a convicted murderer — as a result of the Chinese coronavirus crisis.