California legislators this week return to the issue of how to cut $1.2 billion from the state corrections budget, the Associated Press reports. The solutions include the possibility of releasing some prisoners before they serve their full terms. Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is joining Democrats to propose reducing the state inmate population by 27,000 within a year. They would divert thousands of convicts to local jails, placing them under house arrest or reducing some crimes to misdemeanors that would allow criminals to avoid prison time.
The debate comes after a riot that injured 175 inmates and left parts of a prison in Chino in Chino uninhabitable. Republican legislators oppose an early release program, saying it would flood the streets with felons. Democrats “are hellbent on putting some thoroughly dangerous individuals out on the street,” said Republican Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, a former state parole board chief. “I believe we can do it without doing mass releases. And that’s what they’ve been talking about – mass releases of these individuals into our communities.”