Officials Unveil Controversial Guidelines for Early Release of Inmates to Relieve Prison Overcrowding

California corrections officials on Friday unveiled new regulations that will increase the chances of early release for hundreds of state prison inmates, and expand the credits they earn for demonstrating good behavior and completing rehabilitation programs behind bars.

A prisoner waits inside a holding cell to attend a parole board hearing at San Quentin State Prison. (Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

The highly anticipated — and hotly contested — guidelines are the first major step toward overhauling the state’s prison parole system under Proposition 57, the ballot measure approved by voters last year that aims to reduce the statewide prison population by 9,500 inmates over the next four years.

In a conference call Friday, Scott Kernan, secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, echoed Gov. Jerry Brown’s words on the measure, calling the new law “a durable solution” for prison overcrowding and part of the state’s response to a federal court-ordered cap on the state inmate population.

But he also emphasized the need to create opportunities that improve the chances for inmates to leave prison and keep them from coming back.

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