Tennessee plans to release more than 2,000 prison inmates two months earlier than their full sentences to save $5.7 million over the next year, The Tennessean reports. The state will merge prison rehabilitation programs, allowing more inmates who complete those programs to shave 60 days off their sentences. Inmates who committed violent offenses and nonviolent offenses could be eligible for early release. Inmates sentenced to death or life without parole are not eligible.
Correction officials expect 2,200 inmates to leave this year and next before their terms otherwise had been expected to end. Their empty beds would then be filled by state inmates who have been housed — at greater cost — at local jails because of prison overcrowding. The news is being met with guarded optimism from sheriffs departments. While some welcome any chance to unload state inmates from local jails, they worry that the benefits will be short-term. “Anytime they can get beds out of here and into Nashville, that’s going to help obviously. But at some point in time, the state’s going to have to build more beds,” Wilson County Sheriff Terry Ashe said. “We’ll hear from the victims of some of them, I’m sure.”