Report: Ca. freed 450 high-risk prisoners in 2010

In this Aug. 31, 2007, file photo, a guard tower is seen behind the wire fence that surrounds California State Prison, Sacramento, in Folsom, Calif. AP

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California improperly freed more than 450 dangerous criminals without supervision last year as part of a controversial parole program designed to reduce prison crowding and cost, the California prison system's independent inspector general said in a report Wednesday.

A faulty computerized risk-assessment program predicted the offenders could be released under the state's non-revocable parole law that took effect in January 2010.

But the inspector general found that about 1,500 offenders were improperly released, including 450 who "carry a high risk for violence."

The law was designed for less-serious offenders. Under non-revocable parole, offenders don't report to parole agents and can't be sent back to prison unless they commit new crimes.

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The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said it relies heavily on a computerized program because it needed to review the criminal histories of more than 160,000 inmates and more than 100,000 offenders on parole.

Auditors found the risk assessment was wrong for 23.5 percent of more than 10,000 offenders who were considered for non-revocable parole between January and July 2010.

Even after the computer program was fixed, analysts determined it was wrong in 8 percent of cases.

"CDCR should not compromise public safety ... by understating offenders' risk of reoffending and releasing high-risk offenders to unsupervised parole," the report said.

The department disputed the inspector general's analysis and conclusion.

"Alleged `errors' ... have in large part been corrected," Lee Seale, the department's deputy chief of staff, wrote in a rebuttal letter. "We reject the notion that the California Static Risk Assessment is flawed and dispute the evidence the OIG cites in support of this claim."