"Dangerous Loophole" In State Law

A new state law designed to release non-violent parolees may be backfiring

By Tony Shin
|  Wednesday, Oct 6, 2010  |  Updated 10:14 AM PDT
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"Dangerous Loophole" In State Law

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Prisoner in handcuffs.

A new state law that's designed to release non-violent parolees without supervision to save the state millions may be backfiring, according to an Associated Press story.

Last October, with California prisons bursting at the seams, state lawmakers passed Senate Bill 18.

Under section 48, prisoners who committed crimes that were considered non-violent or threatening would be freed without supervised parole.  In return, fewer people would be sent back to prison for parole violations thus helping to reduce the inmate population.

It even got the support of Governor Schwarzenegger, who said it would save California 500 million dollars in the first year and reduce the prison population by 6,500 inmates.

But since the law went effect on January 25, more than 250 inmates, who committed crimes that could be considered "violent," have been released.

The list includes stalking, domestic violence, abduction, involuntary manslaughter, child neglect and some sex offenses.

Corrections officials said the releases were allowed under the way the law is written.

"What looks good on paper doesn't always turn out to be good in reality," said former California parole agent Graham McGruer.
The 20-year veteran of the Department of Corrections said lawmakers need to write a more defined law that encompasses more crimes.

He also questions the large number of inmates being released under the law because he believes at least some will re offend without supervision.

"There has to be a way of monitoring these people in the community," McGruer said.  "Without paroles, I think people are going to return to the criminal element."

Two state lawmakers have already introduced legislation to close what some call a "dangerous loophole."  The details of the new bill are expected to be announced on Wednesday.

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