California prison escapes double with new community programs

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California’s attempt to help inmates transition back into life outside the walls is coming at a price.

More prisoners, some with violent convictions, are walking away before their time is up.

Fifty convicts from an overall state population exceeding 126,000 prisoners absconded last year; 24 of them came from a program that had about 600 of those inmates.

The overall escapes figure is nearly double the number who went missing in 2014, the year before the “re-entry” initiative started.

That program allows male inmates to serve the final year of their sentences in community centers. It excludes known gang members, sex offenders and those deemed at high risk of committing violence.

But an Associated Press review found multiple recent walkaways were serving time for weapons offenses or other violent crimes.

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