Car thieves, forgers, scam artists, drunken drivers, and some drug dealers might never go to prison–even for repeat crimes–under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposals to reduce California’s inmate and parolee population, reports the Associated Press. The plan would save a projected $400 million over 18 months. Schwarzenegger wants to release nonviolent, non-serious, non-sex offenders from prison if they have less than 20 months remaining on their sentences. It’s part of a plan to pare a $14.5 billion state budget deficit.
Those offenders would be released on “summary parole,” where they would be subject to searches and drug tests but would not be under parole officers’ supervision. “As far as I’m concerned, this entire program is an act of insanity,” said Kern County District Attorney Edward Jagels. Releasing long-term inmates a few months early will not boost California’s crime rate, based on the experience of 13 other places, says the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. “The research is overwhelming that you can do this without endangering public safety,” said Barry Krisberg, president of the Oakland-based organization. Christine Ward of the Doris Tate Crime Victims Bureau said, “The state is basically saying, ‘Good luck, and we hope you don’t kill anybody.’ ”