California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday before the Memorial Day holiday weekend that he granted 14 pardons, 13 commutations and 8 medical reprieves – for murderers, bank robbers, armed robbers, kidnappers, killers for hire, drivers of get-away-cars for murderers, and assaulters with firearms.
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There were many drug crimes as well involving the selling, transporting, and possession of illegal drugs.
The governor’s decision to pardon so many inmates is taking place despite the evidence of a gross uptick in violent crime in California, and human beings dying in the gutters in cities across the state. California’s welfare and institution codes are lacking, and lawmakers know it.
In his 2020 May Budget Revise, Gov. Gavin Newsom, he announced he would be closing two California prisons needing to release 76,000 inmates. The Globe reported the governor was doing this on his own authority through Executive Order – as violent crime is spiking in California’s cities.
The Associated Press told the story of the pardons and commutations a little differently: “Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday pardoned more than a dozen people, including two inmate firefighters who faced deportation, and commuted the sentences of three people who were convicted of killings where they didn’t pull the trigger.”
The headline on the article was, “California governor pardons inmate firefighters.” There were two “inmate firefighters” among the 36 pardons and commutations.
Reading through the 40 pages of pardons, clemencies, commutations and medical reprieves, there were many prison sentences that were “Three Strikes, You’re Out” sentence enhancements, a California law written to help deal with violent repeat offenders. More than half of the states in the United States have some form of a habitual offender law.
However, “Three Strikes, You’re Out” has been under constant revision by the California Legislature and Democrat Governors who feel it isn’t an effective deterrent to crime, and more importantly, leads to prison overpopulation.
“The public needs to understand the magnitude of letting people out of prison,” said Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert in a Globe interview. “There is insufficient rehabilitation for these prisoners, and insufficient accountability.”
Schubert said every prosecutor wants a person who goes to prison to get rehabilitation. And in many cases they do. But in far too many cases, they do not.
“The bigger issue is we are seeing a massive effort to release very serious and dangerous individuals,” Schubert said.
Many violent criminal inmates are getting release credits for staring at the walls. Some have earned their way out of prison, but far too many have gotten credits for doing nothing, rehabilitation or not.
There are 5,000 sex offenders in California state prisons with only one treatment program.
Following Gov. Jerry Brown’s AB 109 and AB 117 in 2011, ostensibly to reduce the prison population in state facilities, “Prison Realignment” was sold as needed to decrease California’s prison population by shifting “new non-violent, non-serious, and non-sexual offenders” from state prisons to county jails, while concurrently reforming the state’s parole system. One result of Realignment is that Sheriffs Departments now house prisoners in county jails who previously would have been sent to state prisons. And those criminals who would be sitting in county jails are walking and living on the streets.
There were 175,000 inmates in prison in 2011 when Gov. Brown signed AB 109, and now there are less than half of that. What’s left in prison are the most very serious and dangerous individuals. These inmates being released are some of the most violent remaining prisoners.
“With little notice, California on Saturday is increasing early release credits for 76,000 inmates, including violent and repeat felons, as it further trims the population of what once was the nation’s largest state correctional system,” the AP reported in April. “That includes nearly 20,000 inmates who are serving life sentences with the possibility of parole.”
“The public needs to understand the magnitude of letting people out of prison” DA Schubert said. The larger picture is the state is releasing many individuals who committed serious crimes – as violent crime is already spiking in the state.