Jailbreak: Computer error helps free violent criminals in California

An estimated 450 inmates with "a high risk of violence" were mistakenly released because computer errors prompted California prison officials to let them loose as unsupervised parolees in a program designed to relieve prison overcrowding, according to the state's inspector general, Jack Dolan reports in the Los Angeles Times.

All of the freed criminals were put on what's called "non-revocable parole," which is supposed to exclude inmates if they have committed sex crimes or violent felonies, or if they have been assessed as having a high risk of committing more crimes, the Times noted. People in that program don't have to report to parole officers and can be sent back to prison only if they're caught committing a crime, the article continued.

The state's IG said the computer program prison officials used to make that assessment does not access an inmate's disciplinary history and relies on a California Justice Department system that records arrests -- but doesn't have conviction information on nearly half of the state' 16.4 million arrest records, the Times said.

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 other prisoners with a high risk of committing drug crimes, property crimes and other offenses were also freed, Dolan reports.

Also, no attempts were made to return any of the inmates to state lockups or put them on supervised parole, IG spokeswoman Renee Hansen said, according to the article.

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