The prisoners were on “non-revocable parole,” whose participants are not required to report to parole officers and can be sent back to prison only if caught committing a crime. The program was started in January 2010 for inmates judged to be at very low risk of reoffending, leaving parole agents free to focus on supervising higher-risk parolees. The revelations came two days after the Supreme Court ruled that California’s prisons are dangerously overcrowded and upheld an earlier order that state officials find a way to reduce the 143,335-inmate population by roughly 33,000. The state has two years to comply. State Sen. Ted Lieu, a former prosecutor who requested an investigation of the unsupervised-parole program, said the inspector general’s report “confirms my worst fears” about it.
Computer errors prompted California prison officials mistakenly to release an estimated 450 inmates with “a high risk for violence” as unsupervised parolees in a program meant to ease overcrowding, according to a state inspector general report quoted by the Los Angeles Times. More than 1,000 additional prisoners presenting a high risk of committing drug crimes, property crimes and other offenses were also let out, officials said. No attempt was made to return any of the offenders to state lockups or place them on supervised parole, said inspector general spokeswoman Renee Hansen.