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California 'High Risk' Prisoners Wrongly Released Due to Computer Errors

Computer errors resulted in some 450 inmates with “a high risk for violence” being wrongly released from California prisons, the Los Angeles Times reported in its Thursday edition.

On top of the 450, more than 1,000 prisoners, deemed to be at high risk of committing drug and property crimes, were also released into the community.

All the offenders were placed on "non-revocable parole" -- a program that does not require them to report to parole officers. The program, which started in January 2010, was intended for inmates considered to be at low risk of reoffending.

Reviewing 200 case files of the 10,134 former inmates on non-revocable parole last July, investigators uncovered that 31 were not eligible for the program, while nine of the 31 were deemed likely to commit a violent crime.

It was estimated, using a 15 percent error rate found in the sample, that more than 450 violent prisoners were let go in the program’s first seven months.

However, the findings were disputed by prison officials who said that some of the computer glitches had since been corrected, making the margin of error eight percent, according to a report by the inspector general.

None of the wrongly-released offenders have since been placed on supervised parole or returned to jail, inspector general spokeswoman Renee Hansen said.

Authorities declined to name the concerned prisoners and would not say what crimes they had committed.

On Monday, a divided Supreme Court ordered California to reduce prison overcrowding, a decision that could force the release of tens of thousands of inmates.