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California DAs Want State Prison Officials to Explain Early Release of Violent Criminals

Transparency needed on CDCR early release scheme

By Katy Grimes, November 4, 2022 2:50 am

The California District Attorneys Association wants the state prison system to explain why it is releasing violent prisoners who haven’t earned sufficient rehabilitation credits early from prison. In some cases, they have re-offended and committed even more serious crimes, the
CDAA said Monday.

“California Gov. Gavin Newsom will be letting another 76,000 prisoners out of state prisons – on his own authority through Executive Order – violent crime is spiking in California’s cities,” the Globe reported May 2021. The CDCR expanded “good time credits” without criteria to justify early release of dangerous inmates.

In December 2021, the Globe reported:

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Raymond Cadei granted a temporary restraining order to stop the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) from increasing the number of “good conduct credits” that non-violent “second strike” inmates could receive.

The CDCR had enacted “emergency regulations” to increase the number of credits given to prisoners working in fire camp-related work and to non-violent “second strike” offenders.  Prisoners in the CDCR system can receive these credits for “educational, vocational, and self-improvement activities” (link no longer good) to help give prisoners a better chance at adjusting once out of prison, and reduce the chances of committing crimes that could result in being jailed again. In many cases, the more credits that are earned, the quicker they can be released from prison. However, only prisoners non-violent offenders and those in minimum security were eligible for these credits.

Under the newest regulations, “non-violent” second strike inmates would see an increase in number of credits earned, going from 50% to 66%. Effectively, this would reduce sentences even more, going from half the time off to 66% of the time off. Those eligible for the new credit amount includes prisoners convicted for domestic violence, animal cruelty, human trafficking, and weapons possessions with prior convictions.

The California District Attorneys Association continued:

To qualify for release, prisoners are supposed to earn credits for good behavior under Prop 57, but that often does not appear to be the case. In a series of reports, Julie Watts of CBS News revealed the process by which CDCR is releasing prisoners is hidden from the public, arbitrary, and dangerous.

“They’re doing it in secret because they don’t want to be called out,” El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson told CBS.

“The public has a right to know what these people are doing to rehabilitate themselves,” said Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig.

Watts reported that Sacramento mass shooting suspect Smiley Martin had earlier been denied parole after a fight with a fellow inmate and other criminal activity while behind bars. Yet because his domestic violence conviction did not qualify as a violent crime, the CDCR deemed him qualified for early release. A year after he was denied parole, police said Smiley was caught on camera opening fire into a crowd of gang rivals near the state capitol.

Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) weighed in Thursday on the District Attorneys’ demand:

“I firmly stand with the California District Attorneys Association in their call for transparency on how rehabilitative credits are calculated. Violent criminals should not be released early from prison if they fail to meet the necessary credit threshold. CDCR officials must come before the Legislature and answer our questions. I am further calling on Department officials to suspend all pending action to release inmates via the nonviolent offender parole review until we have a clear understanding of the calculating formula. I look forward to having mine and my colleagues’ questions answered.”

“CDAA calls upon CDCR officials to immediately explain the system for releasing violent criminals–especially those who have not fully engaged in rehabilitation programs.” said Greg Totten, CDAA Chief Executive Officer. “It needs to stop now. This is not reform. This is an anti-transparent experiment that is gambling with public safety.”

SB 1391, a separate piece of legislation related to Prop 57, also frees prisoners, specifically those who were juveniles convicted of crimes as adults, the CDAA said.

One possible beneficiary is convicted murderer Daniel Marsh who said he got “an exhilarating feeling” after he stabbed an elderly Davis couple 120 times to death. He may now be eligible for early release, according to the Davis Enterprise.

Marsh was just days shy of his 16th birthday at the time of the double homicide. He was sentenced to 52 years to life in prison, but he could get out after only serving 10 years. The case is being heard by the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento.

In Gov. Jerry Brown’s signing message of SB 1391, he says victims’ testimony weighed on him. He signed the bill anyway, citing a need for “redemption and reformation wherever possible,” the Globe reportedJudge McAdam’s October 24, 2018 ruling in that case said, “It will soon be the law of California that even a 15-year-old who commits a brutal double murder of strangers in his neighborhood will be adjudicated in juvenile court and not adult criminal court, without any weighing of factors.” 

Murdered Sacramento Land Park resident Kate Tibbitts would likely be alive today if Troy Davis, who had 2 felony strikes and was released from jail without having to post bail in June, hadn’t been released. Troy Davis raped and murdered Tibbitts, killing her dogs and setting her house on fire,” the Globe reported. “Troy Davis, 51 (aka Troy Davies), a parolee at large, was also let out on zero bail in June for stealing a car, even with his long history of violent crimes, and having recently been in prison for a violent felony.”

“A judge let him out with zero bail on his own recognizance, and then he failed to appear, becoming a ‘parolee at large,’” the Globe reported. In addition to driving a stolen car when he murdered Ms. Tibbitts, he also had a known methamphetamine addiction.

The California District Attorneys Association wants the state prison system to explain why it is releasing violent prisoners like Troy Davis. The rest of us also want to know why.

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9 thoughts on “California DAs Want State Prison Officials to Explain Early Release of Violent Criminals

  1. Did you know? Crimes such as human trafficking, child abduction, elder and dependent adult abuse, assault with a deadly weapon, and rape of an unconscious person, are NOT considered “violent” crimes.
    Governor Newsom lets the criminals decide what “violence” means. The victims? Nah.
    Prop 47 and Prop 57 need to be rescinded. Gavin Newsom should not side with criminals by way of executive order. Where is justice for victims? Where is concern for victim’s safety?

    1. EXACTLY. We desperately need some REAL reforms, and FAST.
      Best way to have a shot at making that happen is to VOTE and Vote Republican November 8.
      Recently I was wondering what happened to the teachers/unions bumper-sticker mantra “Schools Not Prisons?” Gee, have you noticed that now we have neither because of the greedy, lying, manipulative losers on the left who now call themselves Democrat leaders? How is that working out for everyone?
      Have we at least figured out by now, from all that we’ve seen and been through, that these people are all about money-money-money and more-for-me-screw-you and couldn’t give a rat’s rear end whether they permanently ruin children, make the state a violent crime hellscape, and throw what remains of civilized society into chaos as a result?

  2. Here’s hoping that the CDAA gets this motion in front of a judge that was not appointed by Brown or Newsom and who has not served on the board of the CDCC.
    Prop 47 and 57 could be ruled unconstitutional with the right judge.
    Sacramento is as big a swamp as D.C. hope they can try this somewhere east of Bishop!

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