Courts & Crime

California inmate on early-release plan arrested hours after leaving jail

It was probably just a matter of time. But less than one day?

Sacramento sheriff's officials say that's how long it took for an inmate who was set free Monday under an early-release plan to be arrested again, this time on a charge of attempted rape.

The incident prompted immediate outrage from groups opposed to the new state law aimed at reducing prison populations by gradually releasing nonviolent, low-level offenders who earn extra credits for participating in educational and other programs.

"Our greatest fear has occurred almost immediately after the early release of these inmates," said Christine Ward of the Crime Victims Action Alliance.

But the arrest of Kevin Eugene Peterson less than a day after he was cut loose from the Sacramento County jail also sparked questions over whether counties releasing jail inmates since the law took effect Jan. 25 are interpreting the law correctly.

It all began Monday evening, when the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department began releasing hundreds of inmates early from the county's jails.

The state says it has not released any inmates under the new law, which is designed to take effect gradually and only after intense review of each prisoner.

But Sacramento and other counties have decided the new law allows them to apply good-time credits to inmates retroactively, which led to the release of Peterson 16 days early Monday.

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