Once boasting the largest prison population in the nation, the sudden move comes in an effort to trim the overall population.
While being the world's most dominant economic and military power, the United States also boasts the largest incarcerated population in the world. With a prison population rate of 655 individuals per 100,000 people, it's more than fair to conclude that the country has an obsession with the carceral state.
Texas boasts the most incarcerated individuals in the country, followed closely by California. In an effort to reduce the massive population of its correctional system, California announced Saturday (May 1) plans to release upwards of 76,000 inmates, including violent and repeat felons.
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More than 63,000 inmates in the state that have been convicted of violent crimes will be eligible for "good behavior credits." These credits will shorten the sentences of these individuals by one-third rather than the one-fifth that had been in place in California since 2017. This figure includes nearly 20,000 individuals in California correctional facilities who are serving life sentences with a possibility of parole.
On the other hand, over 10,000 inmates convicted of a second serious but nonviolent offense under the state's "three strikes" law will be eligible for prison release after serving half of their sentence. The same will apply to around 2,900 nonviolent third strikers, predicted by the corrections department.
The changes were approved by the state Office of Administrative Law, who gave little heads-up to the public. "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.
The move has been met with praise and criticism, namely for potentially releasing violent felons. We'll keep you updated with subsequent developments.