Violent parolees unsupervised under new state law - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Violent parolees unsupervised under new state law

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS 8) - State lawmakers are trying to close the door on prison inmates being released without supervision. They say too many violent ex-cons are walking free under a new law aimed at easing prison overcrowding.

When police arrested ex-con Robert Taylor earlier this month, he had only been out of prison for five days. He's accused of trying to rape three women in the Gaslamp Quarter.

Taylor's criminal history includes robbery, burglary and petty theft. Over the past decade, he has violated his parole at least six times, resulting in a return to custody each time.

Prison officials say Taylor is precisely the type of inmate parole agents need to keep an eye on, which is why he was not granted unsupervised release under a new state law aimed at easing prison overcrowding.

"This individual does not meet the criteria under the newly enacted law," California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesperson Gordon Hinkle said.

Since January, certain non-violent prisoners in California have been granted early release and unsupervised release.

"In a time when the state has limited resources, and we're in a fiscal crisis, we need to be spending our resources on individuals who are the most dangerous, most serious and violent individuals," Hinkle said.

Earlier this year, the corrections chief told reporters unsupervised release would only apply to non-violent offenders.

"If you're a serious offender, you're ineligible. If you're a violent offender, you're ineligible. If you're a sex offender, you're ineligible. All of that's defined," CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate said.

Most of the 1,900 inmates released on unsupervised parole to date are non-violent. Still, prison records show one was convicted of oral copulation with a minor. Seventeen had statutory rape convictions, three committed involuntary manslaughter and one had a conviction for solicitation of murder.

State Assemblyman Ted Lieu believes parolees like that need to be supervised.

"There's a whole series of crimes that should be included on this list that prevent people from being released without parole supervision," Lieu said.

Lieu has now introduced legislation that would expand that list.

"The view that there are a lot of these non-violent, non-serious state prisoners running around, that doesn't exist. It's only a handful of them. Most of them are in state prison because they are quite dangerous," Lieu said.

Corrections officials say they are following the current law, which dictates who they can release unsupervised.

Assemblyman Lieu expects his proposed changes will come to a vote in Sacramento by the end of the year.

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