Economic woes prompt prison pardons

Posted by Sarah Harlan- email

NEW YORK (AP) - Budget constraints are prompting states to make cuts that will likely remove tens of thousands of offenders from prisons and parole supervision.

In California, the governor wants to eliminate parole for all offenders not convicted of violent or sex-related crimes.

That would reduce the parole population by about 70,000.

He also wants to divert more petty criminals to county jails and grant early release to more inmates.

Those steps could trim the prison population by 15,000 over the next 18 months.

In Kentucky, even some murderers are benefiting from a temporary cost-saving program that has granted early release to nearly 2,000 inmates.

Virginia's governor is proposing early release of about 1,000 inmates.

In New York, the governor wants early release for 1,600 inmates, as well as an overhaul of laws that impose lengthy mandatory sentences on many nonviolent drug offenders.

As budgetary pressures worsen, there are concerns that state spending cuts will target programs needed to help inmates avoid re-offending after they're released.

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