Corrections Dept. admits inmate release mistake

April 15, 2010 6:34:06 PM PDT
California is reversing course tonight after releasing several hundred potentially violent inmates with absolutely no supervision. Now the Department of Corrections is trying to track them down -- something that may prove easier said than done.

A new law allowed the California Department of Corrections to release more than 6,600 low-risk inmates on unsupervised, non-revocable parole. But the agency now says about 500 of those need to be supervised after all.

Its software program that helps assess the risk of them committing another crime has been upgraded-now taking into consideration an inmate's previous county convictions.

"The previous model did not have that additional information. Now we have it, so we do know they're higher risk," Gordon Hinkle from the California Department of Corrections said.

Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, who is running for Attorney General, disagrees. He's been saying all along, some of those felons should have been on supervised parole because their crimes were violent.

"These are dangerous people that are walking the streets, and now the department says 'Oopps. We made a mistake," Lieu said.

"We do not feel it's a mistake. Again, I think it's the department being very precise in applying the risk assessment model," Hinkle said.

Whether there's blame or not, the state now has to find those 500 offenders who need to be on supervised parole.

Law enforcement warns -- crooks aren't always truthful about their whereabouts.

"We went out and verified residences the same day and two out of five gave us bogus addresses," chief probation officer Don Meyer said.

Then there are questions over whether the state can legally put offenders on supervised parole after giving them a signed document that says they are not.

"I don't see what compels them to even come back and sign a new document or why they would do that," Lieu said.

The new software also red-flagged another 200 inmates who were about to be sent out free unsupervised, but now they will be on supervised parole.


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