Assemblyman Todd Spitzer (R-Orange), who is active on criminal justice issues and heads a legislative committee on prisons, said he had been briefed on the plan but would not know what to make of it until he could see the details.
"I want to be cooperative, and I've assembled a team to work with corrections," he said. "There's a lot of people who still want to weigh in about exactly how it's going to be implemented."
The California Correctional Peace Officers Assn., which is warring with Schwarzenegger over pay increases and other issues, mocked the proposal. Ryan Sherman, a spokesman for the guards union, said it was an attempt to reduce the prison population and please judges by letting parolees off early so they are not sent back.
He said they would go on to commit new crimes.
"Law enforcement will go crazy over this," Sherman said. "It's horrible public policy."
And Nina Salarno-Ashford of Crime Victims United of California, a group that has received financial support from the union, said she thought the category of crimes the state calls nonviolent is too broad. That could lead to inappropriate parolees being selected to finish early, she said.
But Tom Hoffman, director of the state's Division of Adult Parole Operations, said officials planned to proceed slowly and handle things properly. He said the criteria are strict and allow for the input of agents who know parolees well.
The six-month period is twice as long as Deukmejian's reports recommended for the state's minimum parole period, he said, and the state will not expand the program until officials see how the trial works.
"We really want to take a conservative approach to this," Hoffman said.