According to California prison inspectors, an ill-equipped computer system has allowed the release of 450 inmates who are considered to have a "high risk of violence." The mistake originated in a computer program designed to organize the release of low-risk prisoners parole-free, and keep the facilities from wasting time and taxpayer dollars on those who pose no threat to society.
Unfortunately the criteria the system was using when it determined the release dates for 10,134 inmates last year failed to take into account convictions and disciplinary actions for over half of the state's entire prison population. Using only arrest information, which on paper can make even the most violent criminal appear to be a minimal threat to society, the system ordered the parole-free release of violent felons, gang members, and rapists.
Prisons in the state are dangerously overcrowded, and a federal mandate has given officials 2 years to cut the inmate population by 33,000 individuals. The computer program at fault was meant to help with this process, but without accurate records, it won't do much good. Law enforcement has made no attempt to track down the erroneously freed felons at this time, and officials say that they can only be returned if they are caught committing a crime.
[Image credit: Jason Woodhead]