[Pnews] Federal judges order California to expand prison releases

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Nov 14 19:10:39 EST 2014

  Federal judges order California to expand prison releases

November 14, 2014

Federal judges on Friday ordered California to launch a new parole 
program <http://documents.latimes.com/prison-release-order/> that could 
free more prisoners early, ruling the state had failed to fully 
implement an order last February intended to reduce unconstitutional 

The judges, for a second time, ordered that all nonviolent second-strike 
offenders be eligible for parole after serving half their sentence. They 
told corrections officials to submit new plans for that parole process 
by Dec. 1, and to implement them beginning January.

"The record contains no evidence that defendants cannot implement the 
required parole process by that date, 11 months after they agreed to do 
so 'promptly,'" the judges wrote in Friday's order.

Corrections department spokeswoman Deborah Hoffman said the agency would 
comply with the order.

But the federal judicial panel did not take action on other steps it had 
ordered California to take last February. Those include increasing the 
sentence reductions minimum-custody inmates can earn for good behavior 
and participation in rehabilitation and education programs.

Most of those prisoners now work as groundskeepers, janitors and in 
prison kitchens, with wages <http://documents.latimes.com/inmate-wages/> 
that range from 8 cents to 37 cents per hour. Lawyers for Attorney 
General Kamala Harris had argued in court that if forced to release 
these inmates early, prisons would lose an important labor pool.

Prisoners' lawyers countered that the corrections department could hire 
public employees to do the work.

The judges also have not resolved a dispute over the state's refusal to 
permit inmates with past sex offenses to earn the same sentence 
reductions now given to other second-strike felons.

California was first ordered to make these changes in February, when 
federal judges also agreed to give the state an additional two years to 
meet court-ordered population caps.

The state has been meeting periodic benchmarks set by the judges, but 
was also supposed to be making other changes that would produce a 
long-term, "durable" population reduction.

For criminal justice coverage, follow @paigestjohn 
<https://twitter.com/paigestjohn> on Twitter.

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