Puerto Rico plans to release prisoners over 60 years of age in order to save money.
Gov. Alejandro García Padilla says he’ll sign legislation aimed at releasing more than 200 aging prisoners, which could save the island’s government as much as $9 million, according to Spanish newswire EFE.
Under the proposed law, which has already passed both houses of the Puerto Rican legislature, prisoners between the ages of 60 and 64 would be eligible for release if they have served at least 10 years of their sentence, while those older than 65 could be freed if they have served at least five years.
“As the age of convicts grows, the threat they present diminishes,” Puerto Rican Sen. Miguel Pereira, one of the authors of the bill, told EFE.
Pereira also hopes to clear out the island’s prisons with a bill that would decriminalize possession of marijuana for personal use. An effort to pass the bill last year foundered after polling data showed that 70 percent of Puerto Ricans opposed decriminalizing weed.
The legislation excludes those convicted of kidnapping, sexual assault, incest, genocide and other serious crimes, according to Puerto Rican daily El Nuevo Día.
Puerto Rico has been mired in recession for the last eight years. The island’s economy contracted 3.8 percent over the first eight months of the current fiscal year, according to EFE.