California inmates released to save money

SACRAMENTO, Calif. State prison officials say dozens of inmates have been freed or approved for early release in the past two months. Many had only a few months left on their terms or were waiting for hearings. None had ever been convicted of major crimes such as murder or rape.

Some had their parole revoked in the first place for missing an appointment with their parole officer or failing a drug test.

According to the /*Los Angeles Times*/, the remaining parole violators in question were given alternate forms of punishment including house arrest, thereby freeing up space for the state's most dangerous criminals.

Former inmates who violate parole account for 70,000 prison admissions each year, the newspaper said.

County authorities including those in Los Angeles complained that there was no more room for prisoners. Many counties house new prisoners or parole violators until the state takes custody.

"All I'm saying is, 'I don't want them in my jail any longer. You're not paying me, and we're not offering a free ride,'" Los Angeles County Sheriff /*Lee Baca*/ told the L.A. Times.

Governor /*Arnold Schwarzenegger*/ and state lawmakers are still working to close California's $26.3 billion deficit.

More information is available at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Web site.

The Los Angeles Times contributed to this report.

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