Prisoner advocates back early release of older 'lifers'

Prisoner advocates back early release of older 'lifers' »Play Video
In this undated file photo released by the California Department of Corrections, inmates sit in crowded conditions at California State Prison in Los Angeles.

Gov. Jerry Brown has submitted an outline of his new prison plan to a federal court. The plan calls for moving nearly 10,000 state prisoners to other facilities to comply with the court's prison reduction order.

But, that plan needs legislative approval to spend hundreds of millions of state dollars. So, the governor has a contingency plan, one that includes early parole of some 1,300 inmates the state believes are at low-risk of reoffending and who are imprisoned for nonserious, nonviolent crimes.

But, some inmate advocates say the state should now consider paroling some "lifers," inmates eligible for parole who have been sentenced to a maximum life term for murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, rape or kidnapping.

Studies show paroled lifers, many of them over 50, are at a much lower risk of reoffending than other inmates.

"A lot of people like to call lifers the worst of the worst. We know that they are the most rehabilitated of the rehabilitated. We also know they are the most expensive population to keep in prison," said Vanessa Nelson-Sloan, director of Life Support Alliance.

Nelson-Sloan said she understands that there are some prisoners who should never be released. Her organization focuses on those who have been incarcerated for many years, have kept their nose clean in prison and are eligible for parole, she said.