California may let prisoners out early

FRIDAY, AUG. 21, 2009

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The California Senate, after a highly charged debate, approved a plan Thursday to trim the state’s prison population by 27,000 inmates, acting over the objections of Republican lawmakers and law enforcement groups.

The proposal is supported by the Legislature’s Democratic majority and Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. It would let thousands of inmates be released early from state prison or avoid prison time altogether, and is intended to cut $1.2 billion from corrections spending.

The bill’s fate was uncertain late Thursday. The state Assembly delayed meeting for several hours after the legislation squeaked through the Senate, finally scheduling an 8 p.m. session.

While the bill needed only a simple majority to pass, majority Democrats were having difficulty rounding up enough votes. Republicans in both houses oppose an early release program.


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