Tennessee may release as many as 4,000 nonviolent felons, such as people convicted of drug dealing and robbery, under a plan to deal with the state’s budget crisis, reports The Tennessean. Correction Commissioner George Little said the department would have no choice but to recommend early release of inmates under budget cuts called for by Gov. Phil Bredesen.
The department has already squeezed out savings by scaling back on roadside litter-removal crews and leaving 400 positions unfilled, and it is relying heavily on federal stimulus funding in its current budget, he said. “This isn’t scare tactics,” he said. “We’ve got to make ends meet.  We would not propose these sorts of very serious and weighty options if we were not in such dire circumstances.”