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Davis Wants Inmate Release To Help Budget

Proposals to release some nonviolent and elderly prisoners early have emerged in California and other states confronting budget shortfalls.

California is facing a nearly $35 billion budget deficit. Leading Democratic lawmakers are suggesting chopping some sentences to shave state costs. Governor Davis will submit his plan to deal with the deficit in January. Aides say he hasn´t ruled out any proposals to cut costs.

The state´s prison population has since swelled to more than 160,000 people. Sixty-one percent of those are considered nonviolent offenders. Some 670 prisoners are between 65 and 69 years old while about 500 are older than 70. Prisoner advocates say the state already is locking up too many people rather than spending money on rehabilitation, education and job programs that prevent crime.