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Court ruling may block early release

August 26, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to release at least 27,000 prison inmates before their sentences are up may have hit a legal stumbling block.The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled the federal policy on early release is invalid.

The court says a Federal Bureau of Prisons policy excluding murderers, rapists and others with violent crimes on their records from early release fails to explain why those inmates are ineligible.

The California Senate has approved a bill allowing the early release of thousands of inmates. The measure is intended to save the state millions of dollars and to ease prison overcrowding.

The bill was voted down in the Assembly.

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass has a new proposal that would keep 10,000 more inmates behind bars. It rejects the provisions of the governor's plan that would lower sentences for some property crimes. It won't allow inmates with less than a year to serve to complete their sentences with a home monitoring device.

By keeping more inmates in jail, Bass's plan would create a $200 million budget deficit.

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