CRIME: Proposal aims to free up agents to focus on ex-convicts who pose a higher risk. By Don Thompson THE ASSOCIATED PRESS SACRAMENTO – Thousands of nonviolent ex-convicts could soon be freed from supervision after six months of parole instead of the usual three years under a policy aimed at ferreting out those least likely to commit new crimes, prison officials said Friday. Currently, nearly 70 percent of ex-cons in California commit violations during their three-year parole. Last year, about 68,000 parolees were sent back to crowded prisons for violations. Ex-convicts who are no longer under supervision can’t be sent back to prison for parole violations. Corrections Secretary James Tilton said the goal of the new policy is to select ex-cons who are unlikely to re-offend anyway, and to encourage them to complete programs that make it even less likely they will commit new crimes. Weeding out the low-risk offenders would let parole agents concentrate on dangerous ex-convicts such as sex offenders and gang members, Tilton said. Criminologists have for years recommended easing California’s parole policy. In 2004, a Schwarz- enegger-appointed advisory committee chaired by former Gov. George Deukmejian recommended releasing “very low risk” parolees after three months. The policy would allow what the department is calling “earned release” after six months. Officials projected that less than half of parolees would be eligible. Sex offenders, gang members or those with a history of violent or serious offenses going back to their juvenile record would be ineligible.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is to announce the new policy Monday, a day before the state Board of Prison Terms considers the new regulations at its meeting in Sacramento. The politically risky policy would first be tested in mid-November, in a single parole district in conservative Orange County. If it works as expected, the policy could be adopted statewide by mid-2008, officials said. A spokesman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger argued that selectively freeing low-risk ex-convicts from parole is better than risking the release of more dangerous inmates. A special federal three- judge panel is considering whether to cap the state’s prison population, potentially forcing inmates to be released before completing their full sentences. “If we don’t make significant reforms, the public safety dangers are grave,” said Adam Mendelsohn, Schwarzenegger’s communications director.