Bill to allow rehab class credits for County prisoners becomes law

September 09, 2013

Holly Mitchell measure will let some inmates “learn-to-earn” shorter sentences

Sacramento -- Assemblymember Holly J. Mitchell’s bill, AB 624, to allow counties to give their sheriffs and corrections directors authority to award inmates time credits toward reduced sentences for classes taken to improve employability, literacy or social skills has been signed into law by Governor Brown after passing the Senate on a 48 to 21 vote.

“Two of California’s most intractable problems in managing the inmate population just got better,” said Assemblywoman Mitchell, whose South Los Angeles district includes a significant number of households with at least one family member who has served jail time. “Both jail over-crowding and the release of inmates who are under-prepared to become productive members of society can be expected to improve now that state law allows earlier release for inmates who take classes inside to improve their social skills and employability on the outside.”

Successful completion of educational, vocational or life management programs may be counted toward an inmate’s early release at the sheriff’s discretion, encouraging felons re-aligned from state prison to county jails to cooperate better with authorities and to  improve their personal functionality, reducing jail time by up to six weeks in a year.

California currently operates a prisoner time-credit program. AB 624 offers counties, which have been required to accept “realigned” state prisoners in local jails, a similar opportunity to address county jail overcrowding by encouraging inmate rehabilitation and reduction of recidivism. County sheriffs previously had authority to award credit for good behavior and AB 624, starting in 2014, will allow for the award of additional inmate program credit reductions.