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In a bid to comply with a court order requiring the state to reduce the prison population by 30,000 inmates, California prisons are embarking on a program that will release female inmates with children.
More than 4,000 inmates will be able to take part in the program, which requires that they be incarcerated for non-serious, non-sexual crimes and have fewer than 2 years left of their sentences.
Once out of prison, the inmates will be monitored with ankle bracelets and report to parole officers.
There has been significant criticism of the California prison program, particularly from victim advocates.
Backers of the program--which was debated in the state legislature last year--believe it will help stop the intergenerational cycle of crime, reports the Los Angeles Times.Critics, however, wonder whether these women were ever fit to be parents. This will be something else that the state will have to contend with.
California prisons must find a way to reduce their inmate populations, but is targeting mothers who function as their child's primary caregiver the right way?
How many of these women will be able to regain custody once released, especially if their children are not with family members? Should parents still serving sentences be able to resume visitation rights or care?
A number of other plans, such as Governor Brown's suggestion of moving low-level offenders to county facilities, have also been proposed, but with the same amount of wavering support.
Keeping this in mind, one has to wonder whether, without a clear solution to the problem of overcrowding, the release of relatively harmless mothers from California prisons is as good a plan as any other proposed.