Release Date: April 13, 2022
Contact:  Michael Rushford
(916) 446-0345

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The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) will hold a hearing tomorrow to allow public comment on the agency’s proposal to give prison inmates, including violent felons, increased good-behavior credits allowing their release after serving between one-third and two-thirds of their sentences.

The Criminal Justice Legal Foundation (CJLF) has filed a lawsuit arguing that earlier, temporary versions of the rules are illegal. CJLF says that, according to the CDCR’s own estimates, about 10,000 additional criminals will be released early by the 2023-24 fiscal year.

“According to the CDCR’s own data, roughly half of the inmates released will be arrested for another crime within one year, including 8% for violent crimes. That’s 5,000 new crimes, and 800 new violent crimes in a single year,” said CJLF Legal Director Kent Scheidegger.

CJLF notes that this number only counts the released inmates arrested for crimes. Clearance rates currently run about 10% for property crimes and 45% for violent crimes. This suggests that at least twice as many Californians will suffer violence at the hands of criminals who gain early release under the CDCR proposal than the re-arrest data indicates. Property crimes will be around ten times as many.

The CDCR seeks to adopt its early release regulations under article 1, section 32 of the California Constitution which specifies that they must, “protect and enhance public safety.” But according to CJLF, releasing thousands of habitual and violent criminals early degrades public safety in direct conflict with that constitutional requirement. Although CDCR claims that increasing good-time credits to allow early release of inmates will produce gains in rehabilitation, empirical evidence on the effectiveness of existing rehabilitation programs generally shows their effect is zero to marginal.

“This proposal is a clear and present danger to the safety of law-abiding Californians. Its apparent purpose is to favor the desires of criminals and the convenience of CDCR over the safety, property, and lives of the people of California. A great many innocent people will be robbed, raped, and murdered as a result of these regulations if they are adopted,” said Scheidegger.

The Foundation’s formal statement to CDCR is available at this link:

CJLF Legal Director Kent Scheidegger is available for comment at (916) 446-0345