NPR logo Report: California Improperly Freed 450 'Dangerous' Criminals

Report: California Improperly Freed 450 'Dangerous' Criminals

The California prison system's independent inspector general said a software error was responsible for the release of more than 450 "dangerous criminals."

The AP reports that in order to ease prison crowding, California used a computer program to determine the risk of releasing more than 160,000 inmates. The inspector general found that the risk assessment was wrong in 23.5 percent of the more than 10,000 offenders checked during the first seven months of 2010.

The AP adds:

A faulty computerized risk-assessment program predicted the offenders could be released under the state's non-revocable parole law that took effect in January 2010.

The inspector general found that about 1,500 offenders were improperly released, including 450 who "carry a high risk for violence."

The law was designed for less-serious offenders. Under non-revocable parole, offenders don't report to parole agents and can't be sent back to prison unless they commit new crimes.

The inspector general said California was compromising public safety. The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation disputed the conclusions saying that the "alleged 'errros' ... have in large part been corrected."