Bill Allows for Reduced Parole Following Drug Treatment

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A new law goes into effect in January that allows California parolees to be released from parole early if they participate in a residential drug treatment program.

The law, which was signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, allows for former inmates convicted of nonviolent offenses who have participated in at least six months of drug treatment programs while incarcerated to enter a residential treatment program upon their release. If they graduate from the five-month residential program, they are released and freed from parole supervision.

The bill was authored by state Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough), who was surprised that the Republican governor signed the bill, especially since he was in the midst of a re-election campaign.

The bill is also supported by the state’s influential prison workers’ union, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association.

About 75 percent of the state’s 172,000 inmates have a history of substance abuse and the state has a 60 percent recidivism rate, according to reports.

The bill did not include any funding for additional treatment beds and programs, but prison officials say they will work to bolster programs as much as possible.

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