California is releasing some low-level, nonviolent prisoners early as Gov. Jerry Brown complies with a federal court order to reduce crowding in its lockups — a turning point in the governor’s efforts to resolve the issue, reports the Los Angeles Times. Inmates serving time for certain nonviolent crimes are being discharged days or weeks before they were scheduled to go free, a move Brown had long resisted but proposed in January and was then ordered by judges to carry out.
Eventually, such prisoners, who are earning time off their sentences with good behavior or rehabilitation efforts, will be able to leave months or even years earlier. Prison workers, inmates’ lawyers and county probation officials said the releases began two weeks ago. Since then, San Bernardino County probation officers said, the number of felons arriving from prison has increased more than two dozen a week, or 30 percent. Officials are working on the terms of other planned steps to reduce crowding, including making more inmates eligible for medical parole and a new release program for those older than 60. In addition, some second-time offenders who have served half their sentences under the state’s three-strikes law could be eligible to leave.