In less than 10 months, California has let 1,000 inmates out of prison early.

Opponents said the releases would lead to an increase in crime, but a new report by the Stanford Three Strikes Project, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund shows that the released inmates' recidivism rate has been comparatively low.

The report says the 1,000 prisoners released early so far have a recidivism rate of 2 percent -- as opposed to the usual 16 percent for all California inmates. They were released because California voters in November passed Prop 36, revising the state's three-strikes law, which mandates a life sentence for anyone convicted of a third felony.

Prop 36 changed the law so that the third felony has to be serious or violent -- not something more minor like writing a bad check or stealing a slice of pizza. The measure also allows inmates whose third strike is a non-serious, nonviolent offense to petition for early release. The inmates released since November -- who have been out now for an average of four months -- filed such a petition.

"California voters overwhelmingly thought this is a population of people who deserve a second chance. And this validates that," Emily Galvin, a Stanford researcher who helped draft the report, told The Huffington Post. "For every one Prop 36er who has committed a new crime, there are over 100 who have gotten jobs, gone back to school and become participating members of society again."

The Prop 36ers' low recidivism rate is especially notable because they have received much less in reentry assistance. While inmates released on probation or parole typically get about $6,000 in house and job assistance, Prop 36ers get about $200 to help them reenter society, the report says.

A judge must determine that each Prop 36er who is released is not a risk to public safety. For that reason and because many Prop 36ers are older, "we were expecting some [recidivism] difference between Prop 36ers and regular releases, but this difference is striking," Galvin said.

Jeffrey Callison, press secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said to HuffPost that the recidivism rate is "encouraging, but very preliminary. It is greatly preferable to measure recidivism over a period of years, not months."

The report also says that California already has saved $10 to $13 million as a result of Prop 36.

But it found that there are about 2,000 three-strikes prisoners sentenced to life and eligible for early release still awaiting action on their petitions. The report calls on Gov. Jerry Brown to expedite these cases and ensure that public defenders have adequate resources to litigate them.

"We are a state with a budget crisis. Any opportunity to save funds without jeopardizing safety, we need to take advantage of," Galvin said.

Callison said that the CDCR has played an active role in informing inmates about Prop 36 but that it has no control over how quickly county courts hear filed petitions.

After a 2011 Supreme Court ruling found that California's overcrowded prisons violate inmates' constitutional rights, a federal court ordered the state to cut its prison population by 9,600 inmates by the end of 2013. On Monday, Brown and the four leaders of California's Legislature offered to spend more money on rehabilitation efforts if a panel of federal judges extended the end-of-the-year deadline.

But Brown and other legislators have said they do not want releasing prisoners early to be part their effort to reduce prison population.

"We are not going to release a single additional prisoner," said Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles).

The panel of judges has not yet responded to the proposal.

Galvin emphasized that the state should consider all petitions in a timely manner. "A day in prison is not the same as a day outside. Every day that they're waiting for their day in court is a day they could get killed; it’s a day something horrible could happen," Galvin said. "Several elderly Prop 36ers have died of disease waiting for their day in court."

According to the report, of the 36ers whose early-release petitions have been heard, only 2 percent have been deemed a public-safety risk and thus denied early release.

Earlier on HuffPost:

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  • 10. Idaho

    10. Idaho > Sentenced prisoners: 499 per 100,000 residents > Total sentenced prisoners: 7,985 (19th least) > Violent crime rate: 200.9 per 100,000 residents (6th lowest) > Poverty rate: 16.5% (19th highest) In 2012, 499 people were incarcerated for every 100,000 residents of Idaho, up from 487 a year earlier. Of the nearly 8,000 sentenced prisoners in the state, 1,008 were women, an increase of 13.9% from the prior year, among the highest growth rates in the country. Unlike most states with high incarceration rates, Idaho had a relatively low crime rate. It had the sixth-lowest violent crime rate and the lowest robbery rate in the country. Idaho also had the fourth-lowest property crime rate in 2011. (<a href="http://247wallst.com/special-report/2013/07/25/states-sending-the-most-people-to-prison/" target="_blank">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>)

  • 9. Missouri

    > Sentenced prisoners: 518 per 100,000 residents > Total sentenced prisoners: 31,244 > Violent crime rate: 447.4 per 100,000 residents (12th highest) > Poverty rate: 15.8% (24th highest) In 2012, there was one person serving a sentence of more than one year for every 200 Missouri residents. But unlike much of the rest of the country, Missouri’s prison population actually rose 1.3% in 2012. Somewhat alarming, the state is running out of prison space and, as of late July, had room for just 100 more inmates before reaching full capacity, according to CBS St. Louis. Officials contend the state can handle more inmates. However, Missouri’s violent crime rate, among the highest in the county as of 2011, means any open spaces are quickly filled. (<a href="http://247wallst.com/special-report/2013/07/25/states-sending-the-most-people-to-prison/" target="_blank">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>)

  • 8. Florida

    > Sentenced prisoners: 524 per 100,000 residents > Total sentenced prisoners: 101,930 (3rd most) > Violent crime rate: 515.3 per 100,000 residents (8th highest) > Poverty rate: 17.0% (17th highest) The number of people in Florida serving prison sentences fell from 537 per 100,000 in 2011 to 524 in 2012. Experts attributed the drop to a decrease in the state’s crime rate. Nevertheless, Florida had the eighth-highest violent crime rate in 2011, with more than 515 crimes committed per 100,000 residents. Specifically, Florida’s robbery and aggravated assault rates were both the ninth highest of all states. Despite the large prison population, Florida closed 10 correctional facilities in 2012, more than any other state. (<a href="http://247wallst.com/special-report/2013/07/25/states-sending-the-most-people-to-prison/" target="_blank">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>)

  • 7. Georgia

    > Sentenced prisoners: 542 per 100,000 residents > Total sentenced prisoners: 53,990 (5th most) > Violent crime rate: 373.2 per 100,000 residents (21st highest) > Poverty rate: 19.1% (5th highest) Although the number of sentenced prisoners in Georgia stayed roughly the same in 2012 as it was in 2011, the number of female inmates declined 7.1%, compared to a 2.3% drop across the country. While Georgia had close to average violent crime rates in 2011, it had the fourth-highest property crime rate in the country. The state is home to a high number of poor individuals who are at higher risk of committing crime and being incarcerated. The poverty rate of 19% in 2011 was higher than all but four other states. Meanwhile, the percentage of people without a high school diploma was among the top third of all states. (<a href="http://247wallst.com/special-report/2013/07/25/states-sending-the-most-people-to-prison/" target="_blank">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>)

  • 6. Arizona

    > Sentenced prisoners: 583 per 100,000 residents > Total sentenced prisoners: 38,402 (10th most) > Violent crime rate: 405.9 per 100,000 residents (19th highest) > Poverty rate: 19.0% (tied for 7th highest) Arizona had 583 sentenced prisoners per 100,000 residents as of 2012, well above the national rate of 418 per 100,000. The state also had among the most sentenced female prisoners relative to population of any state, at 101 per 100,000 female residents. Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office processes at least 7,400 inmates per month, according to its website, and is known for its outdoor desert jail, Tent City. The Department of Justice is currently investigating whether Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his office committed civil rights abuses. (<a href="http://247wallst.com/special-report/2013/07/25/states-sending-the-most-people-to-prison/" target="_blank">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>)

  • 5. Texas

    > Sentenced prisoners: 601 per 100,000 residents > Total sentenced prisoners: 157,900 (the most) > Violent crime rate: 408.5 per 100,000 (18th highest) > Poverty rate: 18.5% (11th highest) Texas had more prisoners in its jurisdiction than any other state, with nearly 158,000 inmates as of 2012. However, the incarceration rate dropped 3.5%, compared to a decline of 1.7% across the country. Experts have attributed the decrease, at least in part, to policies that have moved some lower-level offenders into alternative sentencing programs. Like most states on this list, Texas had a disproportionate share of at-risk individuals. Nearly 19% of the state’s adult population did not have a high school diploma, tied with Mississippi for the highest rate in the country. The 2011 poverty rate of 18.5% was also higher than the 15.9% across the United States. (<a href="http://247wallst.com/special-report/2013/07/25/states-sending-the-most-people-to-prison/" target="_blank">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>)

  • 4. Oklahoma

    > Sentenced prisoners: 648 per 100,000 residents > Total sentenced prisoners: 24,830 (17th most) > Violent crime rate: 454.8 per 100,000 (11th highest) > Poverty rate: 17.2% (16th highest) Oklahoma housed 648 inmates serving sentences per 100,000 residents in 2012, up from 632 in 2011. There were 127 female prisoners in 2012 for every 100,000 female residents, the highest incarceration rate in the country and up from 122 in 2011. The state has become increasingly dependent on private prisons, with about 23% of the prison population serving sentences in a private facility. The move toward private prisons can limit the motivation of the state to cut down on the prison population because the state typically pays much less to hire private companies than to fund the prisons directly. Oklahoma was in the top third of all states for both violent and property crime. Specifically, the state ranked among the top 10 in both aggravated assault and motor vehicle theft. (<a href="http://247wallst.com/special-report/2013/07/25/states-sending-the-most-people-to-prison/" target="_blank">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>)

  • 3. Alabama

    > Sentenced prisoners: 650 per 100,000 residents > Total sentenced prisoners: 31,437 (13th most) > Violent crime rate: 420.1 per 100,000 (16th highest) > Poverty rate: 19.0% (tied for 7th highest) With 650 prisoners for every 100,000 residents, Alabama’s incarceration rate stayed exactly the same in 2012 as it was in 2011. Crime rates were higher in Alabama than most other states. The state had the fifth-highest property crime rate in 2011, with more than 3,600 crimes committed per 100,000 residents. Among property crimes, the state had the third-highest burglary rate. In addition, the violent crime rate was among the top third of all states. More than 17% of the state’s adult population lacked a high school diploma as of 2011, higher than all but four other states. Alabama also had one of the highest poverty rates in the nation, with 19% of people living below the poverty line. (<a href="http://247wallst.com/special-report/2013/07/25/states-sending-the-most-people-to-prison/" target="_blank">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>)

  • 2. Mississippi

    > Sentenced prisoners: 717 per 100,000 residents > Total sentenced prisoners: 21,426 (21st most) > Violent crime rate: 269.8 per 100,000 (18th lowest) > Poverty rate: 22.6% (the highest) Even as the prison population declined across the country, it increased in Mississippi. Between 2011 and 2012 it grew 4.1%, a faster rate of growth than all but two other states. Although the $41.51 daily cost to house an inmate in the state is well below the national average of $65.41, the state’s corrections system is still $30 million in the hole for the 2013 fiscal year. Much of that is due to inmate growth. A hefty 22.6% of Mississippi’s population lived below the poverty line in 2011, the highest poverty rate in the country. Mississippi tied with Texas for the highest percentage in the country of adults who have not completed high school, at 18.9%. (<a href="http://247wallst.com/special-report/2013/07/25/states-sending-the-most-people-to-prison/" target="_blank">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>)

  • 1. Louisiana

    > Sentenced prisoners: 893 per 100,000 residents > Total sentenced prisoners: 41,246 (9th most) > Violent crime rate: 555.3 per 100,000 (7th highest) > Poverty rate: 20.4% (3rd highest) No state had a higher incarceration rate than Louisiana, with 893 people behind bars for every 100,000 residents. The majority of Louisiana inmates were locked up in private facilities, which has given the state far less incentive to reduce the prison population than most other states. Louisiana had the seventh-highest violent crime rate in the country in 2011, with more than 555 crimes committed for every 100,000 residents. The state had the highest murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate, as well as the fifth-highest aggravated assault rate. However, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the state had a much lower percentage of inmates serving sentences for violent crime and a much higher percentage serving sentences for drug offenses than the nation as a whole. (<a href="http://247wallst.com/special-report/2013/07/25/states-sending-the-most-people-to-prison/" target="_blank">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>)