California Prisons Set to Release 4K Moms

But female inmates who don't have kids are out of luck
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 13, 2011 3:39 PM CDT
California Prisons Set to Release 4K Moms
Reporters inspect one of the two-tiered cell pods in the Secure Housing Unit at the Pelican Bay State Prison near Crescent City, Calif., Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2011.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

(Newser) – Thousands of mothers currently doing time will head home soon as California rushes to shrink prison populations. Moms with 2 years or less left to serve for “non-serious, non-sexual” crimes—possibly half of the state’s 9,500 female prisoners—may be released within days; once home, they’ll wear GPS ankle bracelets as they complete their sentences, the Los Angeles Times reports. It’s “a step in breaking the intergenerational cycle of incarceration,” says a prisons official. “Family involvement is one of the biggest indicators of an inmate's rehabilitation.”

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Inmates who are fathers also may see early releases, if they’re considered “primary caregivers” for their children. Regardless of gender, however, those inmates who committed violent or sexual felonies or child abuse won’t be eligible; nor will gang members or inmates who have tried to escape within 10 years. Advocates of the move say it will “reduce the likelihood that inmates' children will embark on a life of crime.” But a rep for a crime-victims group argues that “if they were such great mothers to begin with, they never would have committed the heinous crime that got them sent to state prison.” Adds Choire Sicha at the Awl: "See you again soon, courts! I truly look forward to the lawsuit where childless women still in prison sue the hell out of California." (Read more California stories.)

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