PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- Lawmakers from California to Kentucky are trying to save money with a drastic and potentially dangerous budget-cutting proposal: releasing tens of thousands of convicts from prison, including drug addicts, thieves and even violent criminals.
Officials acknowledge that the idea carries risks, but they say they have no choice because of huge budget gaps brought on by the slumping economy.
"If we don't find a way to better manage the population at the state prison, we will be forced to spend money to expand the state's prison system - money we don't have," said Jeff Neal, a spokesman for Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri.
At least eight states are considering freeing inmates or sending some convicts to rehabilitation programs instead of prison, according to an Associated Press analysis of legislative proposals. If adopted, the early release programs could save an estimated $450 million in California and Kentucky alone.
The Rocky Mountain News