California is giving 76,000 inmates – including violent and repeat felons – the opportunity to leave prison early as the state aims to reduce the prison population in the name of social justice. Per the executive action of Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), over 63,000 inmates convicted of violent crimes will be eligible for good behavior credits, including 20,000 inmates who are serving life sentences.
Fortunately, though the new rule goes into effect on Saturday, it will be months or years before any inmates go free earlier, as it will take time for inmates to build the credits to meet the eligibility.
“The goal is to increase incentives for the incarcerated population to practice good behavior and follow the rules while serving their time, and participate in rehabilitative and educational programs, which will lead to safer prisons,” department spokeswoman Dana Simas said in a statement.
“Additionally, these changes would help to reduce the prison population by allowing incarcerated persons to earn their way home sooner,” she said.
Newsom faces criticism for making these unilateral changes to the incarceration system without input from the voters.
“He’s doing it on his own authority, instead of the will of the people through their elected representatives or directly through their own votes,” said Republican state Sen. Jim Nielsen.
“This is what I call Newsom’s time off for bad behavior. He’s putting us all at greater risk and there seems to be no end to the degree to which he wants to do that.” This comes after Newsom announced the state would begin shutting down three dozen prisons, citing the multi-billion dollar pricetag to rehabilitate them.