California will begin a program today that will reduce its prison population by roughly 6,500 people under a new state law.

While public safety is put at risk, the state claims it will save $500 million in the first year of the program.

But that money “saved” will fall on local law enforcement agencies.

“The money the state may be saving is going to increase costs in policing locally,” said Susan Kang Schroeder, public affairs counsel for the Orange County District Attorney Office.

“We’re just temporarily moving the costs from the prisons to catching, convicting and incarcerating again at the local level.”

It won’t be a mass exodus today, rather low-level offenders will be released throughout the year.

According to an Associated Press report, parole officers will monitor approximately 48 people rather than 70, because ex-convicts deemed less dangerous or less likely to commit new crimes will not be monitored at all.

“We are absolutely opposed to releasing dangerous prisoners to the community,” Schroeder said. “We don’t buy this low risk prisoner idea, they are high risk. In order to be sentenced to prison you really have to earn it.

“The people in prison are dangerous people. We believe this is going to open the floodgates and raise the crime rate. This will dramatically increase the crime rate.”

The state will stop its monitoring of low-level offenders after their release.

“As a police agency the early release of those who have been convicted of crimes into our community does concern us,” said Norm Leong, spokesman for the Sacramento Police Department. 

“We know that parolee’s have a high rate of re-offending.  This program will create more workload for police agencies at a time when we are all understaffed.”

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