Judge declines request to stop early prison releases

Posted on October 22, 2010. Filed under: Crime, Prisons, The Law |

By Dana Littlefield

Originally published October 21, 2010 at 5:54 p.m., updated October 21, 2010 at 6:04 p.m.

SAN DIEGO — A judge this week declined to grant a preliminary injunction that would have prevented some prison inmates from shaving additional time off their original prison sentences.

The ruling, by San Diego Superior Court Judge Ronald Prager, came as a result of a request from a crime victims advocacy group, which contended that the state’s “early release program” was unconstitutional and would put the public in danger .

But Prager said in his written ruling that representatives from Crime Victims United of California failed to adequately demonstrate any “imminent” injury or harm they would suffer without the preliminary order.

A trial has been scheduled for April 29, when either a judge or jury will decide whether to impose a permanent injunction.

In March, Crime Victims United filed a lawsuit in San Diego, claiming the state was violating Marsy’s Law, passed by the voters in 2008, by releasing some inmates early and failing to notify the victims. They contended that the state’s efforts to cut costs would put potentially dangerous criminals back on the streets.

State officials have maintained that a new law, which went into effect in January, allows the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to recalculate “custody credits” for some inmates convicted of nonviolent offenses. Some would earn one day credit for each day they spend in custody.

Those who qualify and complete specific rehabilitation programs can earn an additional six weeks off their sentences each year.

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