From CNN's Jack Cafferty:
A California court says the state has to reduce its prison population by as many as 57,000 inmates within three years. That's more than one-third of the nation's largest prison population.
California prisons house nearly 173,000 inmates.
The panel of three judges ruled the state could do this by shortening sentences, limiting new admissions, sending nonviolent felons to county programs, reforming parole and giving early releases for good behavior. They say these options would not harm public safety. Not sure how they came to that conclusion, but anyway.
By keeping the system at more than 150,000 - which is double capacity - the panel says inmates are not receiving a level of medical and mental health care that's guaranteed by the Constitution.
California's attorney general is already vowing to appeal the ruling, saying it goes against public safety and that they will appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, the panel of judges cites Governor Schwarzenegger's support for prison reforms. He has said this would reduce the prison population by about 40,000 inmates.
Perhaps more importantly, state budgets around the country are strapped for cash in these tough economic times and the court says California would save between $800 and $900 million a year by doing this. They say some of that money could go to local groups that would work with inmates put on parole or probation.
Here’s my question to you: Should state prison inmates be released as a way of saving taxpayer dollars?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Dave from Brooklyn writes:
This is a joke, right? Is there some maximum IQ standard that you must not exceed – like 12 – to be a judge? Instead of letting felons loose on the population, why not hire a few of the unemployed honest people out here to build more prisons. Sounds shovel-ready to me.
Susan from Medford, Oregon writes:
No other country in the world has the rates of incarcerations that the U.S. does. Three strikes in California have led to life sentences for shoplifting. The state of California is bankrupt. Do you want to tell me this system is working?
Rose from Arizona writes:
Releasing prisoners to save tax dollars is absurd. What will these people do when they get out and can't find a job? I would bet they would repeat their crimes and put the taxpayers at risk. How stupid is that?
Stacy from Leesburg, Virginia writes:
Jack, Are you kidding me? Maybe I am a practical person here and I see a ready-made workforce ready to go for some of the grunt work to rebuild this country. Instead of paying higher priced contractors for some of this work, why not get non-violent offenders off their collective rump? In exchange for a shorter sentence, they work and get some job skills and everybody wins.
Ralph from Blackduck, Minnesota writes:
Hi Jack. Yes, I believe some of those inmates should be released. I know several people who have been in prison, mostly for drug offenses. These aren't bad people, but people who have made some poor decisions. Sticking them in an overcrowded facility will do them more harm than good and cost us taxpayers a fortune in the process.
Jack, I live in California and have family members in prison. I think this is the worst ruling in the history jurisprudence.
A. from California writes:
Release them where the judges live.