Early inmate releases from California prisons might lower recidivism rates and cause crime to go down. So says Barry Krisberg, president of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, reports the Sacramento Bee. He said a review of the scientific literature and crime rates suggested a link between early releases and lower crime and recidivism rates. The connection would be made only if inmates were released in conjunction with thorough risk assessment programs and if authorities provided the offenders with assorted re-entry services.
Richard Word, president of the California Police Chiefs Association, said that even if an early release program were confined to nonviolent offenders, they would still “fuel the street drug market” and infuriate law-abiding residents of low-income, crime-afflicted communities who want “to have these knuckleheads locked up.” Three federal court hearings are scheduled for next month on proposals by inmate rights lawyers to cap the state prison population. It now stands at a little more than 172,000, with convicts crowded into the state’s 33 prisons at twice the facilities’ designed capacity. Donald Specter of the Prison Law Office said his firm will ask judges to “limit” the inmate population, not necessarily order early release of thousands of prisoners. Krisberg said there was “no significant difference in the rates of recidivism among early release and full-term offenders.”