California Budget CDCR Parole Policy Prison Prison Policy

Finally—a Sensible Voice on Early Release


Like California, a number of budget-strapped states are crafting legislation
that allows certain inmates to use rehabilitative programs to earn time off their prison and jail sentences.

And as in California, in other states, the very same usual suspects are freaking out and predicting a crime wave in reaction to the various earned early release programs that are being instituted.

Refreshingly, however, at, the online publication affiliated with the Pew Center on the States, there is a wonderfully impartial rundown of what the states are doing in the way of incentivized early release—and the reactions against such policies.

Here’re a couple of clips:

As to whether accelerated-release programs lead to more crime by those who are released, research shows otherwise. A review by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency of at least 12 studies, for example, found unchanged or lower recidivism rates among prisoners who benefited from accelerated-release programs in states including Illinois, Wisconsin and Florida.


“Length of stay has nothing to do with the recidivism rate,” Todd Clear,
the incoming dean of the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University in New Jersey, says. “If I let someone out (early), I’m not increasing the chances of them committing a crime. I’m just changing the date.”

Despite the studies, politicians and corrections officials are keenly aware that a single, well-publicized crime by an inmate who has been granted accelerated release can call entire programs into question, virtually overnight. In California, for instance, outrage over the state’s good-time credits has been exacerbated by the early release of a Sacramento County inmate who was arrested in connection with an attempted rape less than 24 hours after walking free.

For that reason, Clear believes, early-release initiatives are a recipe for political disaster. “The minute you let a bunch of people out early, you own everything they do,” he says

Sadly, yes. You do.


  • Worse yet, Celeste, these particular critics of early release predicting a crime wave are also hoping for a crime wave, and they know it. Just as those who invoke the threat of terrorism to criticize the president are waking up every day, turning right to FoxNews, and hoping to see that a catastrophic attack has happened, just so they can say, “see, I told you”. Of course, I’m open to the idea that some of those in power who are pushing for early release are hoping for a crime wave as well, to suit their own agendas. I wouldn’t put it past real estate developers to grease the pockets of politicians to release prisoners into neighborhoods that they’d like to bring the property value down in, so that they can buy it low and sell it high. I, however, support early release because I don’t believe anyone should be in prison unless they’ve posed a threat to another human life. Posing a threat to ones own life warrants help, not imprisonment. Which is also why I believe counseling, addiction treatment, and job training must be emphasized along with the releases.

  • This might be the single most ridiculous thing you’ve ever posted Rob.

    “I, however, support early release because I don’t believe anyone should be in prison unless they’ve posed a threat to another human life”.


    Burglars-No prison.
    Car Thieves-No prison
    Drug Sellers-No prison
    Child Pornographers-No prison
    Rapists-No prison
    Pedophiles-No prison

    …and the list goes on.

    Your sympathy lies with the criminal unless “they’ve posed a threat to another human life”.

    Real nice.

  • Well, if prison time isn’t affecting recidivism rates, then what exactly will? Hopefully these rehab programs can start to make a difference.

  • Sure Fire, when I was typing that comment, I was thinking about drug offenders and pondering their threat to the lives of others. To clear things up, I believe all of those things you mentioned warrant prison time, as well. I should have said that only people who pose a threat to other people should be in prison. Don’t know why I said “life”. So now you know what I meant. That being said, I would exclude drug dealers from your list. Since I don’t believe drugs should be illegal to begin with, I don’t believe drug dealers should be in jail, either. Legalizing drugs would be plenty enough punishment for them, as their market would vanish. My main point was that people who only pose a threat to themselves, like drug users, shouldn’t be in prison. Mandatory help is something to consider, but not outright jail.

  • You know Rob, I think more Libertarian than most people in my line of work but their drug policy is what makes them unappealing to me. Like it or not the damage done to families and society as a whole by drug use won’t go away, even if they were legalized. Drug dealers deserve prison and I’ve said bfore the government screws up many programs they attempt to run so why trust them to take over the illegal drug industry?

    The vast majority of “drug users” especially in this state, don’t go to county for any extended period of time much less state, they get diversion. At some point they have to be held accountable for their actions though like anyone else.

  • Rob,
    On one hand I applaud your concern over the healthcare costs of the obese and the drain they bring to our society. On the other hand I find it puzzling that you would then turn around and advocate the legalization of drugs. The costs of the junk food addiction epidemic would pale in comparison to the cost of the drug addiction epidemic.

  • NOTE:

    I accidentally deleted Walt’s comment from this thread (when nabbing the spam that was right above it. It was as follows.


    Then why should we not make alcohol consumption illegal? Legalize marijuana or make alcohol illegal.

  • Drug therapy wouldn’t cost as much as imprisonment, CS. We’re going to spend on one or the other, and the former doesn’t cost as much. Unless you’re suggesting releasing drug offenders with no therapy? If so, you’re to the left of me on this issue.

  • If the government screws up many programs it attempts to run, SF, how do we choose which programs government should run? Are you going by results to make this argument? We’ve been throwing more and more police at crime while giving them more and more power, yet criminals seem to keep spawning. When discussing government failing at things, isn’t it fair to suggest law enforcement is one of those things?

  • 54% of Senators are lawyers, 36% of The House are lawyers.

    Thomas Jefferson said, “If the present Congress errs in too much talking, how can it be otherwise in a body to which the people send one hundred and fifty lawyers, whose trade it is to question everything, yield nothing, and talk by the hour? ”

    I agree with Jefferson. The wrong type of people are in charge of the country. We are trillions of dollars in debt and it keeps going up and up. Way to little gets done in Congress and what gets done, regarding bills that are passed, are loaded with pork.

    Medicare and Social Security are in big trouble, the V.A. is riddled with incompetence and you’d be ok with the government running a program which as much money connected to do it as the supply of narcotics to addicts?

    I work for the government and see the waste all the time, even in the law enforcement end. Even without going into what I believe would be a tragic mistake in what the legalization of drugs would do to families, the government hasn’t showed me where it has the smarts enough to run a program of the magnitude this would be.

  • Where I think there’s waste in the law enforcement end, the reduction in crime rates to record or near record lows shows someone is doing something right Rob. How are they failing if crime is being reduced, isn’t that the goal?

    There’s always going to be poor people, always going to be people more prone to take part in criminal activity than others and people like Celeste and you who will gripe about the misunderstood gangster. There will also be people like me who think trusting people who constantly show by their actions they can’t be trusted and should be locked away for long periods of time.

    No matter which side you’re on though, right now, crime is going down in most places so who are you going to give the credit to for that?

  • I don’t know why everyone is getting so upset, an inmate is only eligible for early release for programs started after Jan 25, 2010. Guess what? There aren’t any! Budget cuts killed them!

    This is no coincidence, it was a well thought out plan to please both sides. No one is getting out early. The wool was pulled over the eyes of the three judge panel who approved the plan, win – win. This plan was never intended for county jails as they weren’t included in the judges order to reduce over crowding, only state prisons were. They just jumped in. Legislators don’t read the bills before them, they do what ever the deep pockets tell them to. Before a bill goes to law it must first be put up for auction, The Lobbyist bid on legislator(s), once the legislator has been paid for he/she finalizes the deal insuring a favorable outcome when the bill is put before The House and Senate. Thank you Civics 101 and School House Rock.

    Propaganda is a powerful tool to special interest groups as well. The same deep pockets control the media. What the public assumes is unbiased reporting is really scripted fear-mongering, scaring taxpayers into funneling more tax dollars into their cause. For instance, he California Rehabilitation Center program to rehabilitate civil addicts receives federal funding and grants to keep it going. It doesn’t even have a substance abuse program! (SAP) Civil Addicts have indeterminate sentences and can be kept indefinitely. They must complete the court ordered SAP then go before the parole board and convince them they have been cured of their addictions. Since there are no programs they can’t be cured!

    Many civil addicts currently in CRC have completed the required SAPs before they were cut. They are being kept there two even three times longer than they should be. Inmates who have had their certificates of completion for a over year doing nothing but waiting for paperwork. Men who are in there because they violated parole by missing an appointment only to be ripped from their home, family and job, put in there to stew in angst waiting to be released after having lost everything. Tricked into thinking they were going to get help with their addiction and that this would be better than other state prisons,find no rehabilitation, treatment or counseling, and end up doing much more time. CRC, or “Hotel California” as its called, is a state prison in every sense or the word. It’s even worse, in regular prison inmates get a release date. CRC’s civil addicts don’t. Once they finish the court ordered SAPs, it could be weeks, months, even a year, and they have no way of knowing when they might go home.

    The corrections officers at CRC make over $150,000 a year! They need this facility full to keep making that fat salary. Supposedly, the cost to house a civil addict is $52,000 per year, much more than the cost of housing a regular felon. Taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay $1000 per month for each inmate to be there especially when they don’t need to be..

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