California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration, again facing a budget crisis, is talking about letting 38,000 inmates out of prison before their time is up. But the early-release threat is at least the fourth in the past 18 months, and some legislators say they’ve heard this story line before. “Deja vua all over again,” said one assemblyman.
Unlike its past early release plans, the Schwarzenegger administration says it can commute prisoner sentences under the state constitution, with or without legislative approval. Illegal immigrants would account for about half the 38,000 inmates up for release under the Schwarzenegger plan. The state already has agreements to turn undocumented parolees over to the federal government for deportation.