(CBS) - In an effort to ease overcrowding in California prisons, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered state officials to reduce the 143,335-inmate population by roughly 33,000, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Typically, inmates with a low risk of re-offending are the ones who are released when overcrowding happens. High-risk inmates, like gang members who have committed sex crimes or violent felonies, or those who are determined pose a high risk for re-offending, on the other hand, are supposed to be excluded from unsupervised parole.
Due to an error in the state's computer system, prisoners were accidentally placed on the "non-revocable parole" list, California's inspector general finds. That means, they don't have to report to parole officers once they're out of jail.
As it turns out, the program that prison officials used to make these assessments doesn't take into account the inmates' disciplinary histories. The program is also missing conviction information, says the inspector general report.
The Los Angeles Times says, after investigators reviewed case files for 200 out of the 10,134 former inmates who were on the non-revocable parole list in July of last year, they found that 31 were not eligible. Nine of the 31 are labeled likely to commit violent crimes.
Judging by this 15 percent rate of error, investigators estimate more than 450 violent inmates have gotten the "get out of jail free" card.
Prison officials say they have corrected some of the computer problems since the inspector general's discover, and that the error rate is now at 8 percent.