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Californians convicted of criminal charges could see reforms

The state of California has been granted an extension by federal authorities in connection with mandatory prison reforms. State officials had petitioned federal authorities for additional time, arguing that the only way they could meet strict deadlines would be to send busloads of inmates to other states. The state will now have two more years to complete the reforms, which affect inmates convicted of everything from drunk driving to identity theft and sex crimes. The new deadline has been listed as Feb. 28, 2016.

Reforms in the state are designed to protect the rights of those who have been convicted of various criminal charges. In addition to moving some prisoners into less-crowded private facilities and county jails, the state intends to expand programs for early release. Inmates would be eligible for quicker accumulation of good-behavior credits, which help shorten sentences. Those incarcerated in minimum-security facilities could greatly benefit from these changes. Further, parole considerations are being implemented for medically incapacitated inmates, as well as those who are age 60 and older who have been incarcerated for at least 25 years.

These changes are part of a comprehensive effort designed to decrease facility overcrowding in the state while expanding alternative options such as rehabilitation and treatment. Improved inmate health care is also a priority for officials. Ultimately, state representatives say they are working toward helping those with criminal convictions become productive citizens.

Those incarcerated after a criminal conviction deserve to be treated with respect, not inhumanely crowded into prisons. These new measures are designed to improve inmates' health and safety while promoting additional positive behavior. These positive long-term consequences could create a model for inmate treatment that is emulated by other jurisdictions. Inmates who believe they are being mistreated in California may have legal recourse; a criminal defense attorney may be able to provide additional information about legal rights and options.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "Court gives California 2 years to lower prison population" Bob Egelko, Feb. 11, 2014

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Former Criminal Prosecutor With Proven Results