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Computer errors free 450 high-risk prisoners

In California, where the state has been ordered to ease prison overcrowding by releasing some "low-level" prisoners, computer errors allowed for the release of 450 inmates considered to have a "high risk for violence." It's definitely not what the U.S. Supreme Court had in mind when it recently issued its ruling to throttle down the prison population.

The inmates who were given their freedom were released as "unsupervised paroleees in a program meant to ease overcrowding," the Los Angeles Times reported. Additionally:

More than 1,000 additional prisoners presenting a high risk of committing drug crimes, property crimes and other offenses were also let out, officials said.

No attempt was made to return any of the offenders to state lockups or place them on supervised parole, said inspector general spokeswoman Renee Hansen.

All of the prisoners were placed on "non-revocable parole," whose participants are not required to report to parole officers and can be sent back to prison only if caught committing a crime. The program was started in January 2010 for inmates judged to be at very low risk of reoffending, leaving parole agents free to focus on supervising higher-risk parolees.

One of the big reasons behind the glitch: The computer program prison officials used to make assessments regarding early releases "does not access an inmate's disciplinary history," and it also "relies on a state Department of Justice system that records arrests but is missing conviction information for nearly half of the state's 16.4 million arrest records, according to the inspector general report," the Times said.

A California prisons spokesman, Luis Patino, said while the disciplinary information is missing from the computer system's database, it is reviewed manually by the staff before prisoners are released.

How's that been working for the state? With nearly 1,500 inmates outside of prison walls right now who shouldn't be, not well. Not well at all.

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