A federal judge has scolded California prison officials for abandoning alternatives for parole violators, the Associated Press reports. The judge decided not to find them in contempt of court for failing to follow a court injunction. State Youth and Adult Correctional Secretary Roderick Hickman last month ended three programs that diverted parole violators to halfway houses, drug treatment or electronic monitoring instead of returning them to prison.
U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton said Hickman should have asked court permission before ending or altering the programs. Hickman intends to modify at least two of the three programs because they weren’t working. Karlton said prison officials must do more to avoid sending parole violators back to prison under a settlement Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed on his first day in office in November 2003. That was soon after the government’s watchdog Little Hoover Commission labeled California’s parole system a “billion-dollar failure.” Michael Bien, who represents parolees in the class action suit, said a contempt ruling wasn’t his goal: “I want this thing to move forward. We want these programs back in place.”