Calif. Freeing Violent Inmates First: AP

Wednesday, Mar 31, 2010  |  Updated 3:33 PM PDT
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404277 01: Volunteer inmates wear orange prison uniforms during an overnight stay at the new Cass County Law Enforcement Center April 19, 2002 in Plattsmouth, NE. Civilians were to invited stay in the prison in order to work out potential bugs and test procedures. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)

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Inmates convicted of violent crimes are among those being freed early from California jails to save money, despite lawmakers' promises that they would exclude most dangerous prisoners and sex offenders.
     
An Associated Press review shows that some of the freed criminals were convicted of assault with a deadly weapon, battery, domestic violence, and attacks on children and the elderly.

The early release program specifically forbids authorities from freeing prisoners convicted of about 150 crimes such as rape and murder. But any offense that is not specifically listed qualifies for release, and individual counties can then decide who gets out.

In Orange County, about 8 percent of the inmates freed early were serving time for crimes that included assault, battery, corporal injury to a spouse, inflicting injury on a child, among others.

Fifteen percent of Alameda County inmates released early had been sentenced for those crimes and others, including carrying concealed or loaded guns.

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