California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s latest budget proposal would reduce by tens of thousands the number of criminals behind bars and under community supervision, the Sacramento Bee reports. Parole would be eliminated for all nonserious, nonviolent and non-sex offenders. The proposal would cut the parole population by about 65,000 by June 30, 2010, or more than half of the Christmas Eve count of 123,144. The plan calls for increasing good-time credits for inmates who obey the rules and complete rehabilitation. Combined with the new parole policies that would result in fewer violators forced back into custody, the proposal would reduce the prison population by 15,000 by June 30, 2010. It stood at 171,542 on Dec. 24.
Department of Finance Director Mike Genest said the state’s worsening budget scenario again forced the administration to look at prison and parole population cuts as front-burner proposals to save money. Genest said California’s parole population far outstrips any other state, and that the administration’s plan would bring its policies for released offenders mostly in line with the rest of the country. The California Correctional Peace Officers Association blasted the plan. “What it means is residual costs to all citizens of California and higher insurance rates and more crime,” said spokesman Lance Corcoran, whose union represents about 30,000 correctional officers and parole agents. “These are individuals who do not take advantage of opportunities for change, and they are not going to change.”