The first group of Wisconsin inmates left prison yesterday under a state plan to relieve overcrowding by releasing some prisoners early, reports the Wisconsin State Journal. The Department of Corrections spent three months reviewing hundreds of nonviolent offenders eligible for early parole in exchange for good behavior. Twenty-one were freed yesterday, spokesman John Dipko said. More could be released later this week.
The parolees’ crimes include retail theft, driving while intoxicated, operating a vehicle without consent, forgery, burglary, drug possession, and disorderly conduct. Last year 13 states, including California, Colorado, Maryland and New York, either created or expanded programs to speed up inmate release, says the National Conference of State Legislatures. Critics say the programs could put the public in danger. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn suspended that state’s early out program in December after The Associated Press said the state had secretly changed a policy that required everyone to spend at least 61 days in prison and was awarding six months’ good-conduct credit as soon as inmates entered prison.